Unfit mother arrested for leaving children locked in a hot car, Progressives rush to her defense

I have been reading in Progressive leaning blogs about a homeless woman who was arrested after attending a job interview for child abuse.  Apparently, she left her children, 2 years-old and 6 months, locked in her car (in Arizona) for at least 45 minutes while she interviewed.  The spin being added to the story is the lack of available childcare.  What else was she supposed to do?  It’s a problem with the system, right?

It’s not that I don’t empathize or have compassion.  But I tend to look at things from a raw data perspective.  By and large people are homeless because of a long string of poor life decisions.  Drugs, alcohol, crime, dropping out of school, poor work performance, and many other things.  Most of us could find a place to stay if we found ourselves in need of a roof over our head.  This implies that they’ve screwed over their family and friends to the point where they are no longer welcome in their home.  This isn’t the case in every situation, but for the vast majority of cases, I think it rings true.

If this was a well-to-do middle class mother who left her children in the car under the hot Arizona sun, the narrative would be much different.  She’d be a selfish monster who doesn’t deserve to have kids.  She deserves to be in jail, how dare she be so cruel?  But this case is different.  This mother was struggling, so she’s the real victim.

The double standard when it comes to situations like this is disappointing.  Has anyone asked what would happen to the kids if their mother got the job?  Would they be locked in the car for 8 hours a day?  What was the plan?

Comments

  1. paynehollow says:

    The woman was clearly wrong.

    Clearly, the system is wrong, too, when a mother feels she has no other choice than this in order to get a job.

    And it remains an unsupported and vague opinion that “by and large,” people are homeless because of their own fault, it seems to me. It seems to me that, if you know homeless people and talk with them, they got where they are for a variety of reasons, including, sometimes (but not “by and large,” in my experience) because of their own poor choices.

    Again, many veterans end up homeless because they went to serve in a war that left them traumatized. Now, if you want to say, “Well, it’s their own fault, they should never have volunteered to serve in a war…” and blame these veterans, that’s your call, but I don’t think it’s helpful. Same is true for other folk who have ended up homeless for a variety of reasons.

    One man’s opinions, for what they’re worth,

    Dan

  2. They’re not worth much if anything at all.

    I’ve yet to hear any list of reasons for homelessness and poverty (in this country) that are not related to the choices and behaviors of the homeless and impoverished. If there are “a variety of reasons” not related to poor choices, what are they?

    The case of traumatized veterans covers a very small percentage, considering how many veterans there are. However, this is one case where one might refer to one of that “variety of reasons”. Yet, we must then list them amongst those who suffer from some mental dysfunction and ask why we refuse to institutionalized them rather than let them remain homeless in the streets.

    It would also be helpful to have explained how “they system” is wrong.

  3. A person who gripes about “unsupported and vague opinions” probably shouldn’t blame “the system” for an adult’s grossly irresponsible behavior — much less should such a person suggest that the system is “clearly” wrong. Such self-serving and blatantly political hypocrisy would discredit a person if he hadn’t already long since discredited himself.

    Seems to me. Respectfully.

  4. Two things,

    One, I’m having surgery for a detached retina tomorrow and would appreciate prayers.

    Two, after spending some fairly intensive time with a number of organizations who serve the homeless I think that the actual reality of the situation is that the majority of homeless adults are homeless at least in part because of decisions they have made.

  5. Craig,

    Good luck with the surgery. Did you suffer your detachment the same way Sugar Ray Leonard did? I pray for a successful outcome.

  6. Don’t worry, Craig, and just remember that, in Luke 4, Jesus proclaimed sight to the blind, and since that passage must obviously be taken literally, we can trust that there haven’t been any vision problems with quite literally anyone since the third decade of the first century AD. :-)

    In all seriousness, I do pray that your surgery goes very well indeed.

  7. Thanks. It’s probably a result of previous cataract surgery. It all happened pretty quickly.

  8. paynehollow says:

    My prayers and thoughts are with you and yours, Craig.

    ~Dan

    • Dan. you are just unbelievable. I think it would be good to not waste my time discussing the bible with you. Youre too far out there and you have no firm standard. Youll just dismiss what you don’t like so forget it

  9. paynehollow says:

    Your choice, John. I think the questions I raised (in the other post) are reasonable ones that deal with the topic you raised and questions you asked. Regardless of who asked them, dealing with these questions will help you make your point, if you can answer them reasonably. If you can’t, then it may help you reconsider your position. Win/win, seems to me.

    Dan

  10. paynehollow says:

    Dealing with Bubba’s Complaints…

    A person who gripes about “unsupported and vague opinions” probably shouldn’t blame “the system” for an adult’s grossly irresponsible behavior

    I noted that “The woman was clearly wrong.” Not blaming the system for her clear mistake, it was her mistake and she made it.

    That I think there is something terribly wrong with a world where a woman feels like she has no option but to do this – she apparently had no family? No external help for something like this? – is just another layer of what is wrong with this picture. It’s an attempt to take some societal responsibility for the plight of the poor.

    I think responsibility and problem-solving are good things to do, whether at the individual level or the societal level. Disagree if you must.

    Continuing…

    …much less should such a person suggest that the system is “clearly” wrong. Such self-serving and blatantly political hypocrisy would discredit a person if he hadn’t already long since discredited himself.

    I’m not sure how noting that it’s a shame there was not enough help in place for this woman is “self-serving.” How does that help me?

    Nor do I see how it is blatant political hypocrisy. I’m not blaming the GOP or the Dems, either one. Nor am I blaming conservative churches, liberal synagogues, radical Muslims or any one political entity/group. So, in what possible sense is this either blatantly political or hypocritical?

    Perhaps you misunderstood something?

    Dan

  11. paynehollow says:

    Craig…

    after spending some fairly intensive time with a number of organizations who serve the homeless I think that the actual reality of the situation is that the majority of homeless adults are homeless at least in part because of decisions they have made.

    Clearly, all of us are where we are, at least in part, because of decisions we have made. That is not the same as saying the majority are “by and large” homeless predominantly through their own choices. I don’t think blaming the poor for their poverty is a wise or rational, and certainly not compassionate, approach to dealing with these problems.

    Again, having worked with the homeless and poor for ~25 years (including taking homeless families into our home for several years – and my wife even more so, through working directly with the homeless for almost 30 years through her job), I think the wiser course is noting that the homeless are where they are for a variety of reasons and to improve the plight of the homeless, we need a varied effort that deals with all of these conditions, not simply blame them because they are homeless.

    ~Dan

  12. Dan, it’s certainly true that society can do a better job or a worse job at encouraging prudence and personal responsibility, but adults of sound mind are ultimately responsible for their own decisions, and no amount of top-down reform will ever rid the world of stupidity and selfishness.

    Your “attempt to take some societal responsibility for the plight of the poor” *DOES* diminish the responsibility the individual must take for his own life, even if it doesn’t eradicate it altogether — and the attempt is obviously politically motivated, because, for busybody statists like you, the attitude of Something Must Be Done invariably leads to a more intrusive and costly government.

    The Bible routinely condemns the oppression and exploitation of the poor, but I don’t believe that ANY passage justifies the presumption that the poor’s existence is itself proof of their oppression.

    Underlying that particular conclusion is a dangerous utopian assumption, that peace and goodness and prosperity are the natural order of things and that therefore anything less than the complete absence of their opposites is an indictment on society. Never mind the fact that this poor woman had a car, and that most poor in this country have things that even kings couldn’t dream of having a couple centuries back — air-conditioning, microwave ovens, cable television and internet access: a civilization that creates such incredible wealth and such unprecedented opportunities for self-improvement MUST be flawed if even one person chooses not to avail herself of those opportunities.

    Dan, the problem’s not with society or “the system,” the problem is far more fundamental than that. The problem is sin — not just individual sins, but the sin nature from which individual sins arise, a sin nature that we have from birth. The only solution is the forgiveness of our sins and the second birth — the gift of God’s own Spirit dwelling within us — all made possible through the substitutionary and sacrificial death and bodily resurrection of God Incarnate.

    But mention all this, and you start squawking about “magic tricks” and “the myth of redemptive violence” and how one little white lie couldn’t possibly send a person to Hell.

    That you are so repulsed by so many of the Bible’s clear teachings but so thoroughly marinated in the assumptions of the radical statists tells a person everything he needs to know about what you ultimately believe.

  13. “…the homeless are where they are for a variety of reasons >>>”

    Such as?

  14. paynehollow says:

    Bubba…

    Your “attempt to take some societal responsibility for the plight of the poor” *DOES* diminish the responsibility the individual must take for his own life

    I disagree. Or rather, I’d note that some people can and do, in fact, respond well to societal shaming. That sort of thing motivates some people. Other people, not so much. I think that society owes it to ourselves and, especially for those who identify as followers of the one who came to preach good news to the poor, we are obligated by our faith to step up and assist and don’t think doing so diminishes the poor individual’s own responsibility.

    Bubba..

    and the attempt is obviously politically motivated, because, for busybody statists like you, the attitude of Something Must Be Done invariably leads to a more intrusive and costly government.

    Interesting opinion. In fact, though, i have made it quite clear in many places that my first preference is for individuals in need to turn to their friends and family for assistance. My second preference is for churches and non-profit types to be there to assist. My third choice would be for local communities to have supports in place. Finally, I would look to state and federal efforts to be in place, when all other sources have either failed or failed to step up in sufficient numbers.

    So, it would appear you are mistaken. Now I’ve clarified that for you.

    Bubba…

    I don’t believe that ANY passage justifies the presumption that the poor’s existence is itself proof of their oppression.

    I have not said that. But debilitating poverty tends to be, in my opinion, an indication of failure to have societal values and programs (not always gov’t, but not excluding gov’t) in place.

    Bubba…

    That you are so repulsed by so many of the Bible’s clear teachings

    Not at all on topic here. To be clear, though, I’m not repulsed by the Bible’s teachings, but by the interpretation of certain individuals and groups.

    Dan

  15. paynehollow says:

    Marshall…

    “…the homeless are where they are for a variety of reasons >>>”

    Such as?

    Sudden illness.
    Child had cancer.
    Sexually abused by father as a child, developed agoraphobia and a variety of other debilitating conditions.
    Lost job after 25 years.
    Developed bi polar condition as late teen, unable to complete high school or college, unable to hold down a job.
    Alcoholism.
    Suffered from child abuse, turned to drugs as coping mechanism.
    Prefer living “off the land,” rather than holding down a job.
    Developed PTSD serving in the army.
    Was disabled in fire.
    Born with a disabling condition.
    Drug addiction.
    Left abusive husband and had to raise children herself.

    How many reasons do you want?

  16. How many? Let’s look at what you offered thus far. From the list, I see two that might qualify as a “not my fault” type of reason for poverty. Those would be #2, Child with cancer, and #11, born with disabling condition. However, for #2, that could be mitigated by how well a couple plans their finances before having a child. My granddaughter has Down Syndrome. My daughter and her husband planned quite well for having a child and despite not specifically planning for a Downs kid, they’re doing rather well after 3 years already. They made choices before having kids that made a difference in how much of an impact this unexpected situation had on their economics.

    #3 Sexually abused by father as a child, developed agoraphobia and a variety of other debilitating conditions. and
    #7 Suffered from child abuse, turned to drugs as coping mechanism.

    are the same thing. The issue here is how one deals with suffered abuse. Obviously turning to drugs is a conscious choice. Developing psychological conditions is not, but how one deals with them is. They usually don’t nail anyone full force out of the blue, but develop over time in a way that allows one the ability to decide what to do about it. If they decide to ignore it, that is a choice. Not saying these things are easy, but they don’t remove one’s part in the outcome. The same would be true with #9 PTSD. The same also with #5 bi polar disorder. This also isn’t something that can’t be dealt with and often people simply ignore their symptoms until the condition worsens. I can’t see that I would let any unusual thoughts or moods or fears control my life, or simply sit back and let them without doing anything.

    #1 Sudden illness, on the face of it suggests choices made or not made that led to illness taking hold. If we eat well, sleep enough, exercise and get checked out regularly, one isn’t likely to be waylaid by illness financially. Not to mention, one needn’t be wealthy to do any of these things to prevent the onset of illnesses OR injuries.

    #10 Disabled in a fire. No doubt choices were involved here. Smoke alarms aren’t expensive.

    #4 Lost job. This is why one saves a portion of one’s income and finds ways to make it grow on its own. You know…laying up treasure. Your lunacy regarding this phrase from Scripture is exposed by this item. There is no Biblical teaching against laying up treasure. Christ does not deny our responsibility to do this. His teaching was in regards to those who worry about money at the expense of thinking about their salvation.

    #’s6 & 12 Drink and drugs. Totally choices. Nothing more need be said.

    #8 Living off the freaking land??? How is that not a choice?

    #13 Left abusive husband and had to raise children herself. This obviously was the result of her own choices to have married a guy that would be abusive. Dollars to donuts you could line up a hundred such women and not find one who couldn’t have bailed on the relationship before marrying the guy. Rare is the case where the guy was like night before marriage and like day after taking the vows.

    So with one or two exceptions, and a couple more that one might concede due to the nature of the condition, you really haven’t offered much in the way of legitimate reasons for poverty not the result of choices and actions made or not made by the the persons involved. But even with those exceptions, the percentage of impoverished that can legitimately use those to explain their situation is low. Agoraphobia, for example, occurs in only 1-7% of the population (by one cite’s description) and of that amount, how many are actually impoverished?

    Frankly, I don’t know why it is so repulsive to acknowledge how we are responsible for ourselves, including when bad happens. It should go without saying. I would expect that to concede it would lead to a belief that help would be less likely if we didn’t market the situation as though poverty were inflicted upon the poor. But that would be lying and drawing donations through deceit. But personally, I don’t ask why a person is in need in order to help, though if I know a person lives recklessly, that could indeed affect the terms of my help.

  17. paynehollow says:

    As the topic of “What causes poverty?” is not the topic, I’ll pass on going down this line beyond repeating that people reach homelessness for a variety of reasons. Blaming the poor is an unhelpful and, in my mind, un-Christian thing to do.

    If you really want to say to the abused woman, “Well, it’s your fault you ended up homeless, you really should have stayed with the abusive guy, or not married him in the first place…” sounds a whole lot like blaming the victim (the abused one) rather than the abuser. What happened to holding people accountable for their own actions?

    Also, to note that there are a variety of reasons why people are homeless is not to say there we don’t try to hold people accountable for what they can do in a given set of circumstances. This is what social workers who work with the homeless do, by and large. But in a way of respect, not blame.

    I am encouraged that you care about the situation and would always encourage people who are concerned about the plight of the homeless to, by all means, step up and do something – give to homeless agencies, volunteer, take in a family or informally adopt one as friends (but not in a patriarchal, “Let me be here to help you, you poor pitiful thing…” or a blaming the victim kind of way), support work and education programs, support prisoner rehab programs, etc, etc.

    There is a lot of good work that can be done and those who work with the poor need all the help they can get.

    Respectfully,

    Dan

  18. paynehollow says:

    Marshall…

    Rare is the case where the guy was like night before marriage and like day after taking the vows.

    And how many years do you have working with the homeless? With abused women, specifically? How many classes have you taken on the topic? How many research papers have you written? Where is your data?

    It’s awfully easy to look at the abused, the sexually mistreated, the mentally ill, the disabled, etc and say, “Just get your stuff together,” but until you have experienced any of this, such condescension and second-guessing is not helpful.

    ~Dan

  19. Apparently your work with the homeless requires ignoring reality. You aren’t listing reasons for poverty, poverty is the consequence of decisions and choices which your list truly is. It’s awfully easy to pretend the person in poverty was victimized and not responsible, thereby helping to perpetuate the problem. If nothing else, the consequences suffered by these people should be held up as lessons to them and others by which they and others might learn of outcomes to which their actions and decisions can lead, not written off as unfortunate destinies over which one has no control.

  20. paynehollow says:

    Marshall…

    You aren’t listing reasons for poverty, poverty is the consequence of decisions and choices which your list truly is.

    These are all contributing factors that have led very real, very decent, very hard-working people into poverty. I’ve seen it firsthand multiple times in the lives of good people. I don’t think that blaming them for their poverty or homelessness is helpful or Christian. You are welcome to your opinion, I shall respectfully disagree.

    Dan

  21. “These are all contributing factors that have led very real, very decent, very hard-working people into poverty.”

    Absolutely untrue. They are (noted exceptions notwithstanding) the consequences of the actual factors, which were their decisions, choices, actions and behaviors.

    “I don’t think that blaming them for their poverty or homelessness is helpful or Christian.”

    What is unChristian is you speaking of another blaming people for their situation when I’m speaking of the reasons they are where they are. Trying to suggest I’m blaming takes the focus off of where it needs to be in order to prevent more negative consequences. Telling those with financial struggles that they are not to blame is to tell them they do not have to accept any responsibility for their situation and thus, they are not to take full responsibility for extricating themselves from it. You are lying to them. The result of this lie is that they will continue living as they had been and will set themselves up for more dire consequences. What’s more, others will not be inspired to understand why what they do now carries repercussions that can be financially devastating.

    So if you want to call explaining the truth about why they find themselves impoverished “blaming”, then so be it. I would much prefer they understand the full measure of their actions so they know how to correct their decision-making process for more positive results going forward. We call it “learning from history” and in this case, one’s own so that they do not repeat it. A very Christian thing to do for another.

  22. “…of the one who came to preach good news to the poor,…”

    Dan,

    You use this quote a lot, but what do you think it means?
    What, specifically, was the “good news” Jesus preached to the poor?
    What, specifically, does this mean for us?
    What, specifically, should be happening that is not in order for us to “preach good news to the poor”?

  23. paynehollow says:

    It’s off topic, but if John doesn’t mind, I’d be glad to give an attempt at answering your questions, Craig.

    Regarding the “good news preached to the poor” that Jesus defined and began his ministry with, you asked good questions, all, beginning with…

    1. You use this quote a lot, but what do you think it means?

    The easiest and most direct answer I can give is, I don’t know specifically what Jesus meant, no one can know. Jesus never defined the meaning of what he said here (or when John the Baptist’s followers asked if he was the real deal and Jesus replied, “Tell John, the poor have the gospel preached to them…” or other similar passages).

    But taking a crack at a guess, I think Jesus was always speaking of the Gospel of God’s Grace and, in his time and context, it was always in contrast to the “gospel” (actually, the “bad news”) of salvation by rule-following, by being “favored” by God with power, money and privilege. I think Jesus was always speaking of the Open Door Invitation to ALL to be part of the God Movement, to be part of the great Feast.

    I think that, especially in his day, but also now, the poor, the widows, the divorced (women, especially), the foreigners, the sick… these were all part of a group marginalized and kept OUT of “the holy of holies,” both literally and figuratively. They were outcast, poor, starving, struggling, NOT welcome.

    Into this context, Jesus came preaching the Good News of God’s Kingom where one enters by Grace, not by merit, not by standing, not by wealth, not by one’s good name. In this Kingdom, the poor and marginalized are not only accepted, not only welcome, but they are specifically sought out. This is the Kingdom for all, especially and specifically “the poor,” and least of these.

    And the good news is this is not just some pie in the sky by and by promise of “One Day,” it’s God’s Realm come, God’s Will be done on earth. NOW… as it is in heaven. Society’s measure might be to exclude or, at best, put up with these “least of these,” but not God, nor those who will want to follow God. For God’s followers, the poor and society’s outcasts are specifically wanted, beloved, treasured and cherished. This is THEIR kingdom to be a part of, here and now.

    Given all of what the Bible has to say on the topic, that would be my guess. And, of course, not mine alone… many others have pointed this out – John Wesley, who spoke of not laying up treasures on earth and said…

    May not this be another reason why rich men shall so hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven A vast majority of them are under a curse, under the peculiar curse of God; inasmuch as in the general tenor of their lives they are not only robbing God continually, embezzling and wasting their Lord’s goods, and by that very means corrupting their own souls; but also robbing the poor, the hungry…

    For Wesley and many others, this good news WAS good news specifically to the poor for the sort of reasons I have suggested.

    Craig…

    2. What, specifically, was the “good news” Jesus preached to the poor?

    Again, specifically, we don’t know. Jesus did not tell us specifically what he meant. But generally, we see this notion repeated. He tells John the Baptist he can rest easy because he – Jesus – IS the One and he can tell this is the case because, in part, the poor have the good news preached to them. This would be a comfort to John the Baptist because, we see when he preached repentance to the people, and the people responded, what should we do, specifically…?, John answered…

    “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.”

    We see the notion repeated when Jesus tells the parable of the wedding feast, and the rich, privileged and powerful who are invited only respond by beating up “God’s” servants, but the invitation is not only for them (and indeed, their pride and hubris leads to punishment) but specifically for and to the poor and marginalized.

    It’s an oft-repeated them throughout the Bible, this notion of a God for the Least of These, a God – and a community – for the poor, the marginalized, the otherwise UN-welcome.

    Generally speaking, then, I think it is speaking about the “good news” that God’s Realm and community, here and now!, is open to all, and specifically to those who have so little. The idea of a welcoming, sharing, loving community would be good news, indeed.

    Craig…

    3. What, specifically, does this mean for us?

    That, we, too, are to be a community especially for the poor and otherwise marginalized… A place where poor, hungry, disabled people will be GLAD to hear the news of this sort of inclusive community.

    Craig…

    4. What, specifically, should be happening that is not in order for us to “preach good news to the poor”?

    Given the biblical example, front to back, the HEAVY emphasis on an open community that reaches out specifically to and WITH the poor and marginalized (and not in a patriarchal, Helper-Helpee sort of way, but truly as equal brother and sisters), I think God’s community today should specifically look like that.

    Wesley and others were appalled at the notion of extra, extravagant spending when so many are poor and struggling and I think rightly so. So, while it would and should (given the core value of Grace that is Christianity) be flexible and NOT rule-based/legalistic

    I would think that we’d have fewer “crystal cathedrals” and more Simple, Open Door meeting houses.

    I would that that we’d have more intentional community and less gated community.

    I would think we’d tend to have smaller, localized, neighborhood-based churches and fewer “mega-” “super-sized” churches.

    I would think we’d have fewer gilded art galleries and more outsider art.

    I would think there’d be more formal and informal “adopting” of children and families in need, more direct friendships and partnerships with poorer folk, more time spent listening to the plight of the poor first hand, one-on-one, at their hovel or tent-site and much less time spent condemning the poor as lazy “cadillac queens…”

    It would be more egalitarian and bottom up, rather than authoritarian and top-down.

    In short, I’d think we would look more like the example of the early church, where the deacons’ job wasn’t lording it over the church and being the Deciders and Building managers, but in serving the poor, specifically, in an equitable, helpful manner. Probably not too unlike your work in Haiti (although, of course, I don’t know specifcally what that looks like).

    Good questions. I hope my answers are not found to be too unreasonable.

    ~Dan

  24. paynehollow says:

    We anabaptists (among others) not only take Jesus’ teachings pretty literally, we take the example of the early church pretty literally. It is a good model of what I think the church should look like, in general (again, avoiding the trap of legalistically making the early church a model of Rules to heed to, or else!).

    From the book of Acts, we see the early church described thusly…

    They were devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching
    and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

    Reverential awe came over everyone, and many wonders and miraculous signs came about by the apostles.

    All who believed were together and
    held everything in common, and
    they began selling their property and possessions and distributing the proceeds to everyone, as anyone had need.

    Every day they continued to gather together by common consent in the temple courts,
    breaking bread from house to house,
    sharing their food with glad and humble hearts,

    praising God and having the good will of all the people.

    This was a spiritual home that would be literally good news for the literal poor.

    Continuing from Acts…

    All the believers were one in heart and mind.
    No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own,
    but they shared everything they had.

    With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.

    And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all
    that there were no needy persons ! among them.

    For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales
    and put it at the apostles’ feet,
    and it was distributed to anyone who had need.

    Wow, right?

    And when problems arose…

    In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food.

    So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables.

    Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom.

    We will turn this responsibility over to them
    and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”

    So, we see some division of roles (and perhaps some condescending remarks about “waiting on tables…” because, after all, the apostles were not perfect) and organized efforts to maintain the practice of sharing to strive to maintain that there were “NO need persons” among them.

    I would love to see churches that looked more like this: More intentional communities, more sharing, more tending the needs specifically of the poor, having the goal that there’d be NO needy among them, finding meaningful work and roles for everyone in an egalitarian, communal, beautiful Christian life.

    Amen?

    ~Dan

  25. paynehollow says:

    Craig, what do you tink it means? Do you think “poor” here and in the John the Baptist passages and others do not refer to actual poor people?

    I will be quite clear that, while we don’t have any place where Jesus has told any of us what specifically he literally meant, I DO think that when Jesus said “poor” in these passages, he was speaking of materially poor people. When he said “good news” in these passages, I think the text suggests he is speaking specifically of news that would be received as “good,” news that would make you happy to hear. Thus, I think Jesus meant literally poor and literally “good news.”

    As oft-noted, I tend to take Jesus pretty literally. Which doesn’t tell us what Jesus literally meant by saying “blessed are you who are literally poor,” or “I have come to preach literal good news to the literal poor…” etc, but I think the broader context of the NT – as well as background info from the OT – does inform us quite well.

    I do find it interesting that, for something that is central to Christianity, and for something that is an oft-repeated phrase in the NT, that “good news” does not get a literal explanation, anywhere. Go figure.

    ~Dan

  26. Dan,

    reading is a little tough right now so be patient. I’ll try to respond to your comments. The numbers refer to my original questions.

    1. It seems as though you are suggesting that the “good news to the poor” is spiritual rather than temporal. Is this a accurate summary of your opinion?

    2. It seems as if you are suggesting that in your opinion the “good news to the poor” was specifically spiritual. Or at least that the poor were not specifically excluded from God’s kingdom? Is that an accurate summary of your opinion?

    3. So your opinion is that we should be welcoming to the poor. Is that an accurate summary of your position?

    4. Your response is a little confusing as you sat you don’t want something “rules based” but proceed to lay out what could be taken as rules? Do you see where that might cause difficulty.

    “Craig, what do you tink it means?”

    What do I think what means?

    “Do you think “poor” here and in the John the Baptist passages and others do not refer to actual poor people?”

    I wouldn’t think that “the poor” would be limited sorely to those who are materially poor.

    I find it interesting that your opinion of the “good news” is that it is a message of spiritual significance, not material significance., yet the only examples you give are on “material” help. I also find it interesting that you would take the acts chapter which seems to be pretty clearly speaking of those withing the Church community having their needs met, and extrapolate that out to meeting the needs of those outside of the Church community. Don’t get me wrong, I think that it is a great thing when the Church meets temporal needs for ANYONE in need. It’s just that the Acts passage doesn’t show that as a model, nor does it even suggest that it is normative for any community beyond that time period. It’s a great ideal which is worthy of striving for, I just don’t see it as any sort of rule or mandate in a universal sense.

    Ultimately, where I see the biggest disconnect is a desire to take the Good News (which you seem to agree is primarily spiritual) and to use that as a motivation to provide for peoples physical needs while not actually sharing the “Good News” as you identify it.

    I can’t stress enough the fact that I (and the church I attend) am/are committed to meeting physical needs. It’s my 40 hour a week life. The problem is that I don’t see how you can get from Jesus spiritual “Good News” to a predominantly material meeting of needs based on your opinions on Jesus words and the Acts community.

    It is clear that Jesus did virtually nothing to alleviate the material needs of the physically poor in a general sense. Did He heal people, sure., but not everyone. Did He ever take a poor person and raise that person out of poverty, I don’t think so.

    I don’t want you to think I’m suggesting that meeting people temporal needs is a bad thing, nor that there is a subtext throughout scripture that indicates concern for the poor (Although I wouldn’t even begin to limit the meaning of poor to exclude those who are spiritually poor.). I just don’t see how you can make the leap you seem to have made, without addressing the spiritual aspects of the Good News as well.

    I guess I’d look at it this way. Of what value is it to spend our time on earth out of poverty while spending the rest of eternity separated from God?

  27. paynehollow says:

    Craig…

    1. It seems as though you are suggesting that the “good news to the poor” is spiritual rather than temporal. Is this a accurate summary of your opinion?

    2. It seems as if you are suggesting that in your opinion the “good news to the poor” was specifically spiritual. Or at least that the poor were not specifically excluded from God’s kingdom? Is that an accurate summary of your opinion?

    Thanks for asking for clarifications.

    And no, that is not an accurate summary of my opinion, if I’m understanding your questions.

    I think the good news is quite specifically for the here and now. Which is not to say that it’s not also spiritual good news. Both/and, seems to me.

    In a society where the poor are struggling and marginalized, even demonized and omitted or shunned, Jesus’ realm was literally here and now accepting and welcoming.

    If you are homeless, hungry and shunned, having a community that is welcoming and sharing literally here and now, that IS good news. Literal good news for literal deliverance. Of course, I think there are spiritual ramifications, so I think it’s both physical – here and now – and spiritual – here and now and for eternity.

    Does that clarify?

    Craig…

    I wouldn’t think that “the poor” would be limited sorely to those who are materially poor.

    Well, no, I don’t guess I would, philosophically speaking. But, in the text, I see no indication that he isn’t speaking of the actual poor, rather than spiritualizing it/making it figurative. Do you think Jesus intended these sorts of references specifically to the poor to be taken figuratively? Do you think Jesus’ audience would have taken it that way?

    Why wouldn’t Jesus have said to John’s followers, “Tell them how the ‘poor in spirit’ are being preached to and the ‘spiritually blind’ are given sight and the ‘spiritually leprous’ are healed of their ‘spiritual leprosy,” etc, if he wanted to not talk about the literally poor and literally leprous? Do you think he didn’t literally heal the sick in this passage? Or do you take that part of the passage literally, but the “poor” part metaphorically?

    I just don’t think it’s textually tenable to try to spiritualize these repeated and specific passages. “Woe to you who are ‘spiritually rich’ and ‘spiritually well-fed…'”? I just don’t know what that would even mean, or why Jesus wouldn’t just use metaphoric language as you find in the Matthew 5-7 SOTM.

    Do you think that there are any commentators who take all these ALL as metaphor?

    Of course, once again, these are all unprovable opinions, and you are certainly welcome to yours. I just don’t see why – when you all take so much literally – when it comes to Jesus’ literal words, these are the ones you tend to take symbolically.

    Craig…

    I don’t want you to think I’m suggesting that meeting people temporal needs is a bad thing

    I would not think that, not about you.

    Craig…

    Did He ever take a poor person and raise that person out of poverty, I don’t think so.

    He taught a way that led to a community with Enough for All. In that sense, yes, Jesus was and is quite literally raising people out of debilitating poverty. In citing the Sabbath and Jubilee laws dealing with systemic inequities (which, much like today’s Pay Day lending, tended to trap people – literally leading them to slavery and prison) and providing models of shared economies, communal efforts, he has shown us an Other Way to the Darwinian “every man/woman and beggar for themselves” way, a way that can and does lead to Enough for all. I would strongly disagree with this conclusion.

    Thanks for the thoughts and prayers for your continued healing.

    Is the healing process painful or just annoying?

    Peace,

    Dan

  28. paynehollow says:

    Craig…

    Of what value is it to spend our time on earth out of poverty while spending the rest of eternity separated from God?

    I’d answer with James, of what value is it to preach about Jesus if you just pat people on their heads, say, “Be well,” and send them on their way?

    Both/and.

    But it begins with the here and now, I think. A starving man has very little time or energy to worry about eternity, when what he’s really worried about is a piece of bread here and now.

    Do you think that John Wesley (and all the others for whom this has seemed pretty obviously literal) has the wrong of it when he took these passages literally? That it would be wrong to assume that the rich have a hard time of entering the kingdom of heaven and that they tend to rob both God and “also robbing the poor, the hungry…”?

    ~Dan

  29. Dab,

    Regarding your clarifications for 1&2

    My problem is not that I’m confusing the “here and now’ for something eternal. My confusion is that Jesus and the early Church did not act iin a way that would indicate that they placed equal importance on the physical and spiritual. For example you cite the church in Acts, who quite obviously limited their acts of charity to those who were part of the Church. We don’t see the Apostles handing out food to random passers by, we see them caring for “their own”, members of the family if you will. Again, without denigrating the practice of caring for the needy, the example set by both Jesus and the early Church was not some broad based feed the poor charitable campaign. So I fail to see how you can suggest any sort of norm or command that supports your opinion.

    “Do you think Jesus intended these sorts of references specifically to the poor to be taken figuratively?”
    I quite clearly said that I do not think that Jesus reference to the poor is limited, why do you seek to impose limits? In at least one place Jesus refers to “the poor in spirit”, so I don’t see how even a casual reading of the text would limit the definition of the poor or even prioritize one aspect of poverty over the other. One must also look at Jesus actions, it seems. I’m pretty sure that there is no record of Jesus raising “the poor” as a class out of poverty. If your opinion were consistent, then why would Jesus seem to be acting in a way that doesn’t support his words?

    “Do you think Jesus’ audience would have taken it that way?”

    Tough question, I’m not sure I can give you a complete answer. I would say that how His audience perceived His words would be affected by how much of His teaching they heard, as well as by what they saw of His actions, which again did not include eliminating or even mitigating the physical lot of the poor.

    “Do you think he didn’t literally heal the sick in this passage?”

    No, clearly Jesus healed some sick people. Why He did so is a little bit less clear, but clearly He did heal some of the sick. It seems the better question is : Did Jesus come to heal “the sick” as a class, or just a few?. The problem is that you don’t have any instances where Jesus ameliorated anyone’s poverty specifically to eliminate poverty. Much less any support for Jesus ameliorating poverty for an entire class of people. Now, if you take a more expansive view, you could make the argument that Jesus healing of the sick and caring for the poor was not limited to His earthly ministry, but that the ultimate healing and elimination of poverty will be realized when Jesus returns or when we go to be with Him. The problem with that line of thought is that it actually harmonizes the words and actions of Jesus and the early Church.

    “Or do you take that part of the passage literally, but the “poor” part metaphorically?”

    No, I think I’ve been clear that I don’t agree with your narrow wooden literal interpretation of the word poor. I agree that it includes the materially poor, I just see no reason to limit it as you seem to.

    “Do you think that there are any commentators who take all these ALL as metaphor?”

    I’m not sure what I think really is the defining answer, so I really don’t know or have the ability to try to find out.

    “I just don’t see why – when you all take so much literally – when it comes to Jesus’ literal words, these are the ones you tend to take symbolically.”

    Why would you so brazenly distort my actual repeated position? Do you think that is a helpful way to have a respectful conversation?

    “He taught a way that led to a community with Enough for All.”

    Yet, it never was that way. Who said “the poor will always be with your’?

    “In that sense, yes, Jesus was and is quite literally raising people out of debilitating poverty.”

    Yet, you can’t provide an actual example where Jesus raised “the poor” as a class out of poverty, can you? The only example you’ve given is one where thr Church is taking care of “It’s own”. I’d be delighted if you can provide some support for either Jesus or the early Church raising vast numbers of people from poverty, because the eliminating of physical poverty was such a vital issue. The fact is , that such narratives don’t exist. I’m not saying it’s wrong or bad, or anything negative. It’s a good thing, it’s just not there the way you want it to be.

    “…In citing the Sabbath and Jubilee laws …”

    So Jesus cites Genesis and its a myth, Jesus cites the Sabbath/Jubilee laws and they suddenly become literal history? Can you demonstrate that those laws are recorded in a modern historical manner and that they apply to anyone beyond the Jews at a certain point in history? I really don’t see how you can cherry pick the Jewish law you like because you think it bolster’s your point, while summarily dismissing citations by Jesus which under cut your opinion. Maybe you can provide objective evidence to support your opinion that the Sabbath/Jubilee laws are both non mythical and transcendent. But, you really don’t expect anyone to seriously consider this line of “reasoning” in light of your previous stance, can you?

    “Is the healing process painful or just annoying?”

    Just annoying at this point. since It is impossible to see out of my left eye, which was set up to be my near vision eye when I had a cataract fixed.

  30. “Both/and.”

    No argument from me. I just don’t see many folks on your side who go beyond some sort of temporary fix.

    “A starving man has very little time or energy to worry about eternity, when what he’s really worried about is a piece of bread here and now.”

    Most of the starving people I’ve ever been in contact with didn’t seem to be quite so limited as you might think. I’ve seen some amazing demonstrations of faith and trust from people who are starving.

    “Do you think that John Wesley (and all the others for whom this has seemed pretty obviously literal) has the wrong of it when he took these passages literally? ”

    I’ve answered this multiple times, I see no reason to do so again. If you have questions I’ll be glad to clarify.

    “That it would be wrong to assume that the rich have a hard time of entering the kingdom of heaven and that they tend to rob both God and “also robbing the poor, the hungry…”?”

    I’d say it would be wrong to assume anything about the spiritual condition of any economic class of people. I’d also suggest that it would be much more literally factually accurate to say “we rich” as opposed to “the rich”. The fact is that from a global standpoint we’re rich, and as long as you keep trying to separate yourself from those with whom you share en economic status, I don’t see how you can look at the issue objectively.

    I will say this, that there are literally thousands of actual literal human beings that have actual literal physical sight because a group of “the rich” has spend vast sums of time and money to build staff and maintain a medical center in the midst of the poorest zone of the poorest country in this hemisphere. I know that the 1000 plus family members on the waiting list of the non profit I work for are praying for some more of “the rich” to donate enough money, people, land, or material so that we can house more than @50 low income families a year. I can show you the thousands of folks in the Congo who have medical care because a church full of “the rich” decided NOT to build a bigger sanctuary to celebrate it’s 50th anniversary. I can show you that literally millions of literally hungry children and families that get regular, good, healthy, nutritious food because a bunch of “the rich” donate time and money to purchase, pack and ship food throughout the world. Or the “rich” corporations who volunteer their expertise in food science to make it possible on the scale it happens. Or one of “the rich”, who after finding himself in his early 50’s with more money than he knew what to do with said, “I want to spend the rest of my life funding orphanages. I’m guessing the orphans who live in those orphanages as well as the ones who will live in the orphanages still to be built, probably don’t worry too much about whether or not “the rich” are going to have a tough time getting into heaven.

    Are there rich folks who aren’t getting into heaven, you bet. Are there pooor folks in the same boat, you bet. As long as it’s all about lumping people in groups, it’s really hard to have any sort of meaningful rational discussion.

    John/Terrance,

    I’f I’ve crossed some sort of Line, I apologize. As always, if you feel the need to moderate, I won’t complain.

    Thanks

  31. paynehollow says:

    Craig, continue to heal.

    Craig…

    My confusion is that Jesus and the early Church did not act iin a way that would indicate that they placed equal importance on the physical and spiritual.

    I see no signs that they exclusively separated the physical and spiritual. Do you? I mean, there are passages like “what if you gain the whole world but lose your soul…” which emphasizes the problems of seeking after wealth (temporally) in a way that costs you “losing your soul,” but I don’t see that to be there to say that, “the eternal is more important than the here and now…”

    My guess, without doing research, is this separation of the temporal and eternal is more of a modern notion, probably not culturally a part of thinking in the ancient world. I mean, I guess there were those sects that separated out “the body” as evil and “the spirit” as good, but this was contrary to Christian thinking, right?

    For example you cite the church in Acts, who quite obviously limited their acts of charity to those who were part of the Church. We don’t see the Apostles handing out food to random passers by, we see them caring for “their own”

    Well, when Jesus said he’d come to preach the gospel specifically to the poor, I see no reason to think that he meant that he personally had come to preach it to every poor person in the ancient world. But I also see no reason to think that he meant, “the humble…” or some figurative take on “poor.”

    No, the early church did not try to wipe out global poverty and, if they didn’t, they’d see that as a failure of Christianity. But they did seek to be a community of and for specifically the poor, the marginalized, the outcast. That was the church’s Thing, right?

    Craig…

    In at least one place Jesus refers to “the poor in spirit”, so I don’t see how even a casual reading of the text would limit the definition of the poor or even prioritize one aspect of poverty over the other.

    Well, because it changes the meaning, it waters it down.

    Again, I don’t have a problem with the notion of being inclusive of the “poor in spirit.” This, too, in a reasonable, moral and biblical notion. I’m just saying that in the passages like the ones we’re speaking of, the intent of the words appears to be clearly “the poor,” not merely “the humble.”

    Craig…

    One must also look at Jesus actions, it seems. I’m pretty sure that there is no record of Jesus raising “the poor” as a class out of poverty. If your opinion were consistent, then why would Jesus seem to be acting in a way that doesn’t support his words?

    Jesus specifically taught a Way of Grace, of Inclusion – specifically of the poor and marginalized. IF this way is followed and if humanity embraces the teaching of Jesus, then it can and does lift the poor as a class of delibitating poverty.

    I mean, Jesus taught us to repent of our sins, and yet, there were still sinners in Jesus’ day. Does that mean he wasn’t REALLY preaching us to repent of our sins? Or is that part of the Way of Grace that he came teaching, the good news that was delivered, specifically inclusive of the poor and marginalized? I think yes, this is part and parcel of the Way that he taught.

    Perhaps this might help: I don’t think the “good news” that Jesus and the early church taught was this, “The Good news is believe that Jesus is the son of God and that he rose from the dead and you can be saved…” As James (again – Love James!) pointed out, even “the demons” believe that much. No, it’s not mere affirmation of Jesus and his resurrection that saves, it’s repentance and acceptance of the Way that Jesus taught, the Way of Grace, of forgiveness, of inclusive Love and acceptance for all, specifically and especially for the poor and marginalized. THIS would be good news for the poor, literally and make sense contextually and textually. Without trying to take literal words and force them into a figurative mold.

    One man’s opinion.

    Dan

  32. paynehollow says:

    Craig…

    I’d also suggest that it would be much more literally factually accurate to say “we rich” as opposed to “the rich”.

    Well, of course, I agree 100% here. I am “the rich,” no doubt. I say so quite often and am glad to affirm that again.

    Craig…

    The fact is that from a global standpoint we’re rich, and as long as you keep trying to separate yourself from those with whom you share en economic status, I don’t see how you can look at the issue objectively.

    I’m surprised that you have not noticed this in the past, but I always place myself in the class of “the rich.” It’s exactly why passages like these are so troubling for people like we who are rich. Or, at least, why they SHOULD be troubling.

    It’s also why I object to trying to water down these passages to make them figurative when the text does not demand it. At a guess, it’s probably generally “the rich,” or, “We, rich” who are the ones who would look at passages like these (“Is it not THE RICH who oppress you?” “WOE to you who are rich!”, etc) and take them metaphorically. It’s uncomfortable for we who are rich to take such harsh words literally.

    All the more reason to do so.

    The Gospel is not about comfort, it’s about truth, grace, justice, love and, as Jesus noted, Good News to the poor.

    Even if that makes we who are rich uncomfortable.

    Especially so.

    ~Dan

  33. paynehollow says:

    Craig…

    As long as it’s all about lumping people in groups, it’s really hard to have any sort of meaningful rational discussion.

    Well, since the Bible regulary does this, I’d think we do need to have meaningful conversation, and we could even call it Bible study. Because I’m not the one saying, “is it not the rich who oppress you?” that’s James. I’m not the one saying, literally, “Woe to you who are rich…” that is Jesus.

    The stories and truths in the Bible regularly include warnings against and for “the rich.” (infinitely more than it gives warnings against “the gays” or “gay marriage,” which amounts to zero…) What is wrong with taking the text at its word in these instances and considering the very difficult (for we who are rich) implications of these literal and direct teachings?

    It may be uncomfortable, but there is no shame or harm in being uncomfortable as we study the bible. I bet you agree with me on that.

    And just to repeat what I often repeat: I’m not saying that all of us rich people are jerks and hell-bound sinners. Obviously, I do not think that of myself, nor do I think that of you. I’m just taking the Bible pretty literally when it comes to Jesus and NT teachings.

    I’d think you could appreciate that sort of serious study about uncomfortable topics.

    ~Dan

  34. paynehollow says:

    Craig…

    I think I’ve been clear that I don’t agree with your narrow wooden literal interpretation of the word poor. I agree that it includes the materially poor, I just see no reason to limit it as you seem to.

    If we’re speaking philosophically, I don’t limit it. I’m just saying that, in THESE texts, when Jesus says, “the sick are healed, the poor have the gospel preached to them…” etc, I see no reason not to think that, in that instance, Jesus meant he was preaching to the literally poor, healing the literally sick.

    I do applaud you not simply taking truths and trying to make a woodenly literal rule out of them, this is what I do, too, and I think all who seek the Right and Good. We should do this for all the bible and in any discussion of morality, seems to me.

    Craig…

    Jesus cites Genesis and its a myth, Jesus cites the Sabbath/Jubilee laws and they suddenly become literal history?

    These rules we find in the OT are rules that the Jewish folk DID literally apply to themselves, that much appears pretty clear. How the earth began and those stories were passed on (whether as literal science text or myth or some other genre) is debatable, but clearly, the Jewish people have, for millenia, dealt and believed in these rules. That’s observable.

    That does not make the stories of Genesis literal, nor does it mean there’s anything wrong with separating out what appears to be facts from what appears to be a figurative literary device.

    Craig…

    Can you demonstrate that those laws are recorded in a modern historical manner and that they apply to anyone beyond the Jews at a certain point in history?

    They don’t, Craig. They don’t. Those rules were specifically to Israel, specifically at that time and place. The stories in which these rules appear are, by all appearances, stories told not in a modern historic sense, but in the literary styles of the time. And the text is certainly not a rulebook for all people in all time. Not in the text, not outside of the text, do we have any reason to think that.

    Craig…

    I really don’t see how you can cherry pick the Jewish law you like because you think it bolster’s your point

    Israel has these stories of how God wanted them to have in place systemic rules to alleviate and avoid poverty situations. That I recognize these eternal truths (not everlasting rules, but general truths) is not cherry picking. No, Cherry picking would be to say, “This rule is one that applies to all people and all times. THAT rule was specifically for Israel,” in the manner that most anti-homosexuality activists tend to use. I am clearly and consistently pointing out that the OT is not a universal rule book.

    But just because I strive to honor the style that the stories were written in – and that it’s clearly, literally NOT a rule book for all times and places – does not mean that I/we can’t learn from these stories. All scripture is beneficial for learning and training, etc. But that does not mean that all scripture is a rule book.

    See the difference?

    Dan

  35. First of all, I continue to protest the abuse of the word “rich” to include those who are not. Unless we are talking about poverty of the most desperate kind, that we see almost exclusively in third world countries, it is affront to both these desperately poor as well as to those in this country who are at risk of losing property due to unemployment or low wages or the choices they made. This is a deceitful practice to push for that which is not intended by the teachings of Christ. It also makes YOU, Dan Trabue, into a bigger hypocrite than you normally appear to be. If you are “rich” in any sense, then you have not practiced any of the teachings you are so glib in offering, such as selling off your possessions and giving to the poor.

    I will also continue to protest the clear misuse of Scripture as regards matters of economics. Regardless of how one’s Bible puts it, it is not rational, reasonable or logical that Jesus, James or anyone else intended to condemn all people of wealth since it doesn’t make sense that all rich people oppress those with less. It is a mere distinction drawn to say “is it not the rich who oppress you” as it is unlikely that one is oppressed by anyone worse off. Where does your alleged “God given reason” ever come into play?. It is never said, “Is not every single person of wealth guilty of oppressing you or someone else?” Nor is there ever any indication that all poor people are or were worthy of blessings OR the kingdom of heaven.

    The poor were open to preachings of people like the prophets or Jesus. The rich often do not feel as if they are in need of anything. Some would believe their good fortune was a reflection of their character alone, as if somehow they were deserving. Their material need was such that they felt no need of any kind, spiritual or otherwise.

    The poor were those who suffered at a level that left them feeling without hope. The Good News, which Jesus did indeed proclaim openly: “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life”. THAT is the Good News preached to the poor who learn that their lot in life is not forgotten by God as it may have been by those of means on earth. But that Good News was meant for all who accept Christ as Savior, rich and poor alike.

    But NO WHERE does Scripture teach that wealth creation is to be avoided or denied one’s self. ALL NT preaching simply speaks to the temptations specific to the accumulation of wealth, all of which tempt also those who struggle in poverty. ALL NT preaching simply reminds those who do seek wealth to avoid doing so at the expense of God since, like those in authority put there at God’s pleasure, one’s wealth is also at God’s pleasure. This teaching goes back to at least Deuteronomy 8:18 “But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.” If God gives us the ability, we would not be good stewards of His gifts to choose to not use those abilities, especially when doing so can result in such good works and has resulted in good works by many who have attained great wealth.

  36. “I see no signs that they exclusively separated the physical and spiritual. Do you?”

    I never said they did. I merely point out that there is no mass alleviation of the plight of the poor, yet much emphasis on the spiritual regeneration of sinners.

    “But they did seek to be a community of and for specifically the poor, the marginalized, the outcast. That was the church’s Thing, right?”

    While the early Church did offer succor to the poor within the Church community, there is certainly no indication that they were engaged in any sort of general alleviation of the plight of “the poor”.

    “Well, because it changes the meaning, it waters it down”
    No it expands it beyond a the imposition of a 21st century reading based on a wooden literal interpretation that does not seem justified.

    “I see no reason to think that he meant that he personally had come to preach it to every poor person in the ancient world.”

    So when you say “the poor” you really don’t mean all of “the poor” you mean some unidentified subset of “the poor”? Most people, when they use a term like “the poor” usually use it to actually mean the poor, not something else. Could you please provide some more detail on which poor Jesus was referring to. Because if “the poor” doesn’t actually mean “the poor” then you’re whole point kind of loses support.

    “Does that mean he wasn’t REALLY preaching us to repent of our sins?”
    No.

    “Or is that part of the Way of Grace that he came teaching, the good news that was delivered, specifically inclusive of the poor and marginalized?”

    So, your point is that the “good news” to the poor was to “to repent of our sins”, how is that different from the good news tor anyone else. You’ve just come back to saying that the “good news” was a primarily a spiritual message, not temporal relief of poverty message. Great, we agree that the basic “good news” message that Jesus came to preach was to turn from sin, follow Him, and that it was open to everyone equally.

    Now it seems as though you are suggesting that Jesus was teaching one message, while His actions don’t agree with His words. Surely you can’t be advocating that? Of course, you also can’t focus on His teachings while ignoring His actions? Can you?

    “I say so quite often and am glad to affirm that again.”

    I’m sure you have done so at some point, yet your continued use of the term “the rich”, has the potential to suggest that somehow “the rich” are really someone else, not you.

    “…It’s also why I object to trying to water down these passages to make them figurative when the text does not demand it….”

    It’s a good thing that no one is actually trying to water down these texts. I agree that the text does not demand any certain reading and that is reasonable case can be made that it is not necessary to attach an arbitrary limitation to the terms “rich” and “poor” that the text does not demand.

    “Well, since the Bible regulary does this,…”

    This is an interesting new development. Are you suggesting that the Bible (or specifically James and Jesus) is treating things like economic status by broad brushing an entire group together, instead of evaluating individual behavior and motivation?

    I’m not going to indulge you, but you just can’t discuss anything without bring up “the gays” or “gay marriage”. Two terms that don’t exist in the Bible.

    ” I don’t limit it.”

    Sure you do, you just said that Jesus didn’t mean all of “the poor”, if that’s not limiting it what is?

    “I’m just saying that, in THESE texts, when Jesus says, “the sick are healed, the poor have the gospel preached to them…” etc, I see no reason not to think that, in that instance, Jesus meant he was preaching to the literally poor, healing the literally sick.”

    So, your point is that, at least in the case of these texts, you are imposing limits on the text that exclude those who are spiritually poor or spiritually ill? Ultimately what causes poverty? Ultimately, what causes sickness? Of course, you’ve made it quite clear that you are imposing limits on the terms “the poor” and presumably “the sick” as well.

    “They don’t, Craig. They don’t. Those rules were specifically to Israel, specifically at that time and place.”

    I agree with your opinion, but the fact that these rules came from a time prior to a modern technique of recording history they must be evaluated in that light. Further, as the Bible is clearly not a rule book, I find these to be interesting historical/mythic tidbits but of little real value to our Christian life. Even further, Jesus referred to numerous things/people/events (Jonah,The Great Fish, The Flood, Adam, Eve, etc.) which are clearly mythic, so why would we put any more stock is His referring to these things than to those which are clearly mythic? Oh, and did I mention that the Bible is not a rule book?

    “Cherry picking would be to say, “This rule is one that applies to all people and all times. THAT rule was specifically for Israel,”…”

    I’m confused, you just said that the Sabbath/Jubilee rules were time/place/people specific, yet you are suggesting that Jesus reference to them somehow gives then a degree of transcendence, you’ve got me lost here.

    Again, you just can’t have a discussing without introducing homosexuality into it, why is that? You have been concerned about the expanded discussion of “the poor” being off topic, yet you introduce the topic of homosexuality as if it is somehow magically on topic? Again I’m confused by the seeming double standards that keep showing up in your arguments.

    “See the difference?”

    I’m assuming you’ve actually read the entirety of my comments, not just pick and chosen bits that suit you to respond to. I say this because any reasonably unbiased reading of my previous comments would suggest that I am not applying a wooden literal one size fits all to these texts. That I am arguing that in the absence of any clear textural rules there is no reason to presume that the terms “the poor” and “the rich” are limited in any way. It is completely possible to be literally spiritually poor, isn’t it?

    A couple of final questions, and a couple of earlier questions re stated.

    In the context of the passages you’ve mentioned, how specifically do you (or Jesus or James) define “the poor” or “the rich”?

    Can you provide any text that specifically excludes all of “the rich” from God’s kingdom or specifically includes all of “the poor”?

    Realizing that I’m using an interpretation of Matt 25 that I personally don’t necessarily agree with. It seems as though God has given us all “gifts” or “talents” or abilities that we are to use while on this earth. Since all of these Gifts come from God, isn’t it reasonable to conclude that someone who uses their God given gifts and abilities in an honest ethical way that produces some degree of temporal wealth, has in some way been given their wealth (at lest indirectly) by God?

    If not, then where specifically does wealth come from?

    Specifically, ultimately, what causes poverty?

    Specifically, ultimately, what causes sicknes

  37. Marshall,
    I realize that there is a significant disparity in wealth displayed just by the regular commenters at this blog. My point is that if you look at the numbers, literally all of us here rank in the top 5% of the worlds wealthiest people. So, when you see the left complaining about the top 1% or whatever, they are being incredibly hypocritical in excluding themselves from their true world economic status. I Haiti we used to joke that to the Haitians we are ALL rich American doctors.

    I agree that for anyone who has regular access to a computer and the internet to refer to “the rich” as if that group somehow doesn’t include themselves is hypocritical. Which was precisely my point. To Dan’s credit, he did modify how he refers to “the rich”, at least temporarily and acknowledge that despite the impression one might get from his comments he does seem to include himself in the category of “the rich”.

    Now, as to this arbitrary grouping of “the rich” and “the poor”, at least up to this point Dan hasn’t provided any specifics as to what those terms mean either in the context of his proof texts or in any way that would allow a meaningful discussion of how this caring for the poor thing should look today. Certainly, this glib “the rich this,and the poor that” is silly and pointless, as it has no definition that helps anyone.

    It just seems incredibly naive to pretend that economic status isn’t significantly driven by decisions. As you look around the real world it just is. Obviously as has been said ad infinitum, NO ONE is suggesting that people with real legitimate physical/emotional/medical barriers to success shouldn’t receive help. To even suggest such a thing (at least as far as the commenters here) is to simply ignore the reality of the views expressed.

    I think we mostly agree,but I do think that we in the US need to realize where we stand relative to the rest of the world.

  38. paynehollow says:

    Craig…

    there is certainly no indication that they were engaged in any sort of general alleviation of the plight of “the poor”.

    The “indication” is the texts of which we are speaking.

    “Tell John how we’re healing those marginalized by illness, tell John how we’re preaching the good news TO THE POOR…”

    “I have come to preach good news TO THE POOR…”

    And, as they preached literally good news literally to the poor, they joined the church and, within that context, they – at least for a time – ended poverty for that group.

    That is an indication, is it not?

    Look, this is off topic here. You’ve raised some questions, I’ve answered some questions. You’ve raised more questions that I would be glad to answer.

    I’ve posted some of my response on my blog. If you’d like to carry on, why don’t we move it over there so we’re not hijacking John’s blog for an off topic thread?

    Or, if John says “go ahead,” I’m fine with continuing here. I’m just noting that it’s not the point of the post.

    Dan

  39. “No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:1-5).”

    If one looks at the words of Jesus above, I’m not sure that one can extrapolate out the same sort of “good news”, that some would suggest.

  40. “there is certainly no indication that they were engaged in any sort of general alleviation of the plight of “the poor””

    Please note what I actually said. I used the term “general alleviation of the plight of “the poor””

    So you respond.

    “The “indication” is the texts of which we are speaking.”

    This seems ti indicate that you are disagreeing with my actual quote. In other words, you seem to be suggesting that the indication IS that there was some sort of general alleviation of the plight of the poor.

    But then, you seem to be saying something different.

    “Tell John how we’re healing those marginalized by illness, tell John how we’re preaching the good news TO THE POOR…”

    “I have come to preach good news TO THE POOR…”

    And, as they preached literally good news literally to the poor, they joined the church and, within that context, they – at least for a time – ended poverty for that group.”

    So, if I understand you correctly, you are suggesting that the “good news” was not to “the poor” in the usual sense of the term, but to a specific group of some unidentified and unspecified poor in a certain time and place. Actually in a slightly later time and place as Acts hadn’t happened yet and there is not textural indication that Jesus and his disciples were living in the same manner as the Church depicted in Acts.

    “That is an indication, is it not?”

    Yes, but you aren’t really clear what it is an indication of. It would help if you would be specific as to what the therm “the poor” means as it is being used in these texts. Given your lack of specificity on this matter it is difficult to decipher your point.

    Personally for the sake or continuity and orderliness it seems to make sense to keep this here rather than to move it. Since John seems to have been on, since this started and hasn’t said anything I see no reason to move absent some specific request from the moderators. Further, there seems to be a bit more leeway in terms of tolerance for going off topic here than there and I’d rather keep to a more neutral court where any comment policy enforcement is being done by someone not necessarily a part of the discussion.

  41. paynehollow says:

    I’m okay if John doesn’t care.

    Craig…

    if I understand you correctly, you are suggesting that the “good news” was not to “the poor” in the usual sense of the term, but to a specific group of some unidentified and unspecified poor in a certain time and place.

    To the poor around you. How about that? As I already said, when Jesus said he’d come to bring good news to the poor, that didn’t mean that THEN AND THERE, Jesus was bringing good news to ALL the poor in the world, ALL at the same time.

    We all deal with our values in our immediate circles, not all poor, all at once.

    But that he was not saying that “I’m doing that right now for all poor people everywhere, including the ones who can’t hear me or know nothing about me…” does not mean that the poor around us are not “poor” in the usual sense of the term.

    I’m not sure what you’re getting at. When I say “poor,” I mean, those who are poor. If I say, “it’s good to give alms to the poor,” doesn’t mean I won’t count it unless you give help to ALL the poor. ANY of the poor will do.

    Are you getting my point?

    If I talk about our church helping the poor, and what I mean is, the poor in our neighborhood and the poor in Morocco, where we have a contact, that does not mean I’m not talking about the poor in the usual sense. Right?

    ~Dan

  42. Dan,

    I understand what your opinion is. I believe that my question was related to what Jesus and James meant when they used the term “the poor”.

  43. Most would when encountering the term “the poor” in the context you have offered it would tend to think that the term would be to some degree or another inclusive of all of the poor. Certainly not in the silly sense that Jesus was going to alleviate poverty for everyone and for all time in the blink of an eye. But, certainly in the sense of more than “these poor’ or “the poor in my immediate vicinity”. The Acts model certainly appears to be focused on poor believers in the immediate vicinity so I can see how one could make that argument. The problem is that the blanket term “the poor” implies more than just a few here and a few there, or at least it does in English.

    I hope I have cleared up your confusion caused by my comment. I’m more interested in how Jesus and James were using the blanket term, than what your opinion is about how you define it now. I believe I asked some more specific questions in an attempt to get a better handle on what you are trying to say. If I can clarify further I will be happy to.

    I do think that it’s best to keep this thread orderly and in context instead of moving it elsewhere and having to spend a bunch of time repeating things.

    Unless, of course, John shuts it down.

    • By the poor Jesus likely meant poverty stricken people. Often times the synagogues wouldn’t treat the poor the way they treated everyone else. In essence they were shoved to the back and weren’t given the same religious treatment as the higher status people. That’s why it was important to preach to the poor.

  44. John,

    Seems as likely as anything else. I assume that your comment indicates that you are Ok with continuing this here.

  45. paynehollow says:

    Craig…

    Most would when encountering the term “the poor” in the context you have offered it would tend to think that the term would be to some degree or another inclusive of all of the poor.

    I don’t think this is true, Craig. Or, more correctly, whether or not “most” would think these passages would be taken to mean “all poor,” I don’t think it’s a reasonable interpretation.

    Look, set aside the comment of Jesus beginning his ministry and look at Jesus’ response to John the Baptist’s followers.

    “Tell John, the sick are being healed, the poor are being preached the Gospel…”

    Clearly, in that text, Jesus is speaking specifically of “the sick” and “the poor” in the vicinity, not ALL sick, not ALL poor.

    In that passage, do you see that the text is not suggesting ALL poor, but just the poor at hand?

    ~Dan

    • Umm. Dan. That passage is a claim to divinity. There is a cross reference in good bible translations that gives the referemce to the OT where God says he will come to do those things. It was an answer to John the Baptist asking if Jesus was the one, ie the Messiah.

      “Serious” bible study huh.

  46. paynehollow says:

    …and beyond that, do you see how, textually, there is nothing there to suggest that the intent of the language is the more generic “humble/poor in spirit..”?

    ~Dan

  47. paynehollow says:

    John…

    It was an answer to John the Baptist asking if Jesus was the one, ie the Messiah.

    Yes, John, that’s exactly what it is. And HOW would John know that Jesus was the One? Because the sick are healed and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And in context, Jesus is speaking of the literally sick and the literally poor. That is my point.

    Dan

  48. paynehollow says:

    That’s all I’m saying. Again, it’s not an unorthodox opinion. John Wesley and most commentaries I’ve read have nearly all thought the same. The only place I have tended to see this turned into metaphor is in more modern commentaries.

    Which is not to say that I’m saying when Jesus, et al, say and mean “the poor” or “the rich” that it’s a way of saying that all the poor are saints or all the rich are hell-bound. Nor is it to say that there is no truth in the suggestion that being “poor in spirit” – humble, meek, etc – isn’t also a worthwhile thing.

    ALL I’m saying is that, by all appearances, when Jesus et al mention “the poor” or “the rich” in the NT, they seem to be speaking literally of “the poor” or “the rich.” In generalities, perhaps, but literally the poor and the rich.

    ~Dan

  49. I came across this article in the poorly written AmericanThinker.com, where lefties believe only one guy writes anything that appears there. It is very relevant to the general point of the post, if anyone cares to again touch on that general point.

    In the meantime, a bit of irony caught my eye.

    ” Again, it’s not an unorthodox opinion. John Wesley and most commentaries I’ve read have nearly all thought the same. The only place I have tended to see this turned into metaphor is in more modern commentaries.”

    Firstly, before getting to the irony, I don’t know that it is accurate to suggest anyone speaks of Christ’s use of the term “poor” as metaphorical. Indeed, the article to which I’ve linked speaks of a form of poverty to which Christ is thought by some to be referring. I would say, based on the whole of Scripture, as well as Jesus references to His Kingdom not being of this world and all, that Jesus never means merely the materially poor, and that His care for the materially poor is the actual metaphor, if you will, for His mission of bringing “Good News to the poor”. Everything He did on earth, His miracles of healing, His preaching, all of it was toward a greater goal than anything so worldly as helping the poor. Everything He did was for God’s glory and serving Him.

    Anyway, as to the irony, note again the above Trabue quote and see his how he qualifies his opinion. He relies on that which, in his mind, in more traditional and gives modern commentaries relatively short shrift. In what way does the modern understanding here not carry weight versus the traditional for a guy who so readily accepts the modern over the traditional regarding an issue of which the teaching on it is far more distinct, direct and wholly unambiguous?

  50. paynehollow says:

    To help, Marshall, by “more modern,” I’m referring to those written from the more modern, conservative, fundamentalist evangelical background. Much of today’s conservative evangelical philosophy is not all that old, in spite of what some might think.

    Marshall…

    that Jesus never means merely the materially poor

    That is a fine opinion and you’re welcome to it. My opinion is that is not a reasonable reading of the actual text.

    But carrying that philosophy over, is it also then not possible that when Jesus mentions “sin” he is not speaking of the literal deeds, but the general breaking of union/rejection of God as being the problem? Why the emphasis on literal rules when it comes to OT rules given specifically to ancient Israel, but not when Jesus is speaking of the poor or rich and there is no textual hint that he’s speaking metaphorically?

    Respectfully,

    ~Dan

  51. Dan,
    You’ve wasted a considerable amount of time essentially arguing for my point. Why is that? Why not move on and get back to the discussion.

    However, if Jesus meant “these poor” instead of “the poor” then why do you think He wasn’t more specific?

    The problem with continuing down this road too much further is that I’ve tried to get some answers to some questions that might help clarify your opinions, but until that happens I’m forced to make assumptions based on limited information. Hopefully, you could help with this problem.

    John,
    I agree that Jesus was speaking of the materially poor, however nothing in the specific text mandates that we assume He was only speaking of the materially poor. Also, as you pointed out the claims being made were claims to divinity. If one is claiming divinity why would that person limit said divinity to “these poor” rather than “the poor”? It’s a little difficult, as I think that there is a completely reasonable answer that encompasses all of the options, to expand as I’d like to get Dan to lay some more foundation about his position before making any more forward progress.

    Thanks for letting this stay. I think it gets confusing and disorderly when something like this jumps threads or blogs. I also think it’s a worthy conversation, and somewhat on topic. As long as it’s possible to keep gay marriage out of this particular conversation.

  52. Dan,
    In reading your response to MA, it occurs to me that you might be using the terms literal and metaphorical differently that some of us are. You seem to be suggesting that committing a specific action that violates God’s law is a literal sin, but that the general separation of man from God because of sin is metaphorical. I think most of us would argue that there is both a literal action as well as a literal separation. Therefore in neither case would sin be a metaphor. Again, I don’t think that anyone is suggesting that including all categories of poverty under the term “the poor” is suggesting anything but a literal reading of the term poor. It seems as though you are arguing that when Jesus spoke of the materially poor that somehow must be literal while Jesus speaking of the spiritually poor must be metaphorical. As far as I am concerned, the text doesn’t demand one interpretation or the other. It also seems as though both material and spiritual poverty are literal conditions, and that given the scope of Jesus teachings that He would be concerned with both literal manifestations of poverty. Either way, I don’t see anyone advancing the argument that Jesus is speaking of metaphorical poverty. It’s not in the text, nor is it in any arguments in this thread. I’m not sure how you have reached this erroneous conclusion, but I hope we can move past this discussion of a point no one is making and move away from what seems to be a digression.

  53. paynehollow says:

    ? I’ll have to say that this is getting a little confusing. You think I’m making your argument?

    ?

    Why don’t we review the points being made (and, by exclusion, what points are NOT being made).

    I had referenced Jesus’ claim at the beginning of his ministry about how he came to preach good news to the poor.

    You said and asked…

    You use this quote a lot, but what do you think it means?
    What, specifically, was the “good news” Jesus preached to the poor?

    I answered a few times saying, in summation:

    1. The Gospels tell us in many places that Jesus and the disciples went around preaching the “gospel” or the “good news” or the “good news of the kingdom of God…” but never in the Gospels or the NT does it say what specifically that message was. So, literally and specifically, we do not know what the “good news” that Jesus preached to the poor. At least not as a specific bullet-pointed message.

    2. We do, however, have some of Jesus’ sermons and parables and lessons, so we have clues and do know what he preached at least at times.

    3. Perhaps most (or maybe not) of us would sum up this message as saying, “It’s a message of repentance of sin and acceptance of the Way of God (and not a mere intellectual affirmation of Jesus’ Godly nature), which is a way of forgiveness, love, justice and – ultimately – grace. It’s about salvation by God’s grace and, as a necessary extension of that Way of Grace, we have specific ideas and ideals that are literally good news for the literally poor.

    3a. Salvation by Grace, in Jesus teachings, is found in contrast to the salvation by wealth, by societal wherewithal, by ritual “cleanliness” that tended to (at least in practice) exclude the poor, the women, the marginalized and oppressed.

    3b. This salvation by the Way of Grace was about a Kingdom of INCLUSION, not exclusion. ALL were welcome, including specifically and especially the poor, the outcast, the marginalized.

    3c. This salvation by the Way of Grace was also about the hear and now. God’s kingdom come on EARTH as it is in Heaven. Thus, this Way of Grace that was accepting and welcoming and cherishing and forgiving of all – especially and specifically the poor – was starting here and now (or there and then, for Jesus and the early church).

    3d. Given 3a-3c, this WAS and IS quite literally Good News for the quite literal poor, to whom these messages were directed/including. Why? Because of what we literally see in Jesus and his followers. They left all they had, they shared all they had, they embraced one another as a family – the literal poor specifically included.

    That is my opinion in response to your question, restated yet again.

    Does that clarify my point? The Good News that Jesus preached was the good news of God’s grace and a life of repentance and forgiveness (a “spiritual” message, I guess, if you limit it to just that), AND that Way of God’s Grace MEANS that all are accepted and supported and encouraged and loved – including and especially the literal poor and marginalized. This was why it was good news, because, wow! Where once I was unclean and despised and rejected, in THIS kingdom, I’m loved and embraced and assisted, even as I love and embrace and assist.

    So I do not see that as primarily a spiritual message, but a literal, real-world message that the poor and marginalized would and do recognize as good news. It’s BOTH spiritual AND real-world literal: “let us share with one another, poor friends and beloved, and have enough by this Way of Grace and sharing and acceptance.”

    Does that answer your questions?

    If so or if not, do you have some specific question about one of my specific points?

    ~Dan

  54. Dan,
    My position has been that Jesus was (or at least could have been) speaking of “the poor” how ever one chooses to define the term I do not believe that He was limiting His message to only the materially poor, and He actually said as much. You seem to be saying that you agree that there is no reason to exclude those who are poor in ways other that material possessions, Given that seeming agreement, I fail to see how rehashing areas of agreement helps. However, now that you’ve expressed your opinions again, would it be possible to move on?

  55. To clarify a bit further, I’m suggesting that your categorization of literal and metaphorical poor seem to be obscuring things rather than clarifying things. I had addressed this earlier and had hoped that we could move forward rather than covering territory that seems to be pretty settled ground.

  56. paynehollow says:

    So, my answers to your initial questions are understood and we may even have common ground (other than your hunch that Jesus intended the “poor” to be inclusive of the metaphorical poor)? So, what is it, then, you’re asking?

    ~Dan

  57. Dan,
    I apologize, but you keep referring to the metaphorical poor, yet I’ve explained why I have problems with the term. You’ve said earlier that the term “the poor” is not necessarily exclusive, and that Jesus “good news” message was one of inclusion not exclusion, so on the face of it we have some degree of agreement on this. Why not acknowledge these areas and move back to the point in the conversation before this detour? I think it’s pretty clear that I am attempting to get some clarification from you about some specific questions. I’ve asked questions in order to hopefully gain some insight, I’d certainly hope you’d prefer that your position be clear rather than unclear. I also hope you understand the need to sometimes proceed in an orderly manner in a conversation like this. There are some areas I have questions about, but in an attempt to be through I’m attempting to not simply jump to conclusions, but to ask a series of questions that will hopefully help me move forward in the conversation. I’d rather take an orderly approach rather than to simply leap forward without any basis to do so. I certainly hope that you would understand and respect this desire not to make leaps of judgement, but instead to try to ascertain, by asking questions, where we might agree and where we might disagree and to probe the areas of disagreement to try to gain understanding.

  58. “…that Jesus intended the “poor” to be inclusive of the metaphorical poor…”

    Just one small point of clarification regarding the above statement. This is mis states the position I have actually proposed in earlier comments. I have been quite clear that the text says nothing explicitly or implicitly that would lead anyone to conclude that Jesus meant to exclude any subcategory of “the poor” from His message. Given your insistence that the ‘Good News” message is one of inclusion not exclusion, I don’t see any reason that you would suggest that Jesus intended to exclude anyone from His message. In the interest of clarity, I repeat. I never said that Jesus intended anything. I merely look at the text and see nothing that compels an interpretation of less inclusion rather than more inclusion.

  59. paynehollow says:

    Craig…

    You’ve said earlier that the term “the poor” is not necessarily exclusive, and that Jesus “good news” message was one of inclusion not exclusion, so on the face of it we have some degree of agreement on this.

    What I’ve said is that, in general, I think we can very reasonably speak of “the poor” to mean many things, including the humble, or “poor in spirit.” I have also said that we have no reason to assume that Jesus was speaking metaphorically when he told John’s followers, “Tell John the poor have the gospel preached to them.” Textually and in context, Jesus appears to be speaking of the actual ill being healed and the literally poor being preached to. I don’t think there is any reason to make that a metaphor.

    Beyond what Jesus said, in general, can we speak of “the poor” metaphorically? Sure. I’m just noting that is not in the text and we have no reason to assume it in this text. As a rule, was Jesus inclusive not exclusive? Yes. In this text, should we assume he was speaking metaphorically of the poor? No. There is nothing contextually here to suggest it.

    Is that what you’re saying? Or, rather, it appears that is not what you’re saying, but it is what I’m saying. Just like we have no reason to assume that when Jesus said, “Tell John, the sick have been healed” that he meant the “symbolically or figuratively sick…” No, he appears to be speaking of the actual sick. And the actual poor.

    You are free to disagree on that point, of course, I just don’t think the text supports that.

    I’m just trying to answer your questions, here.

    Craig…

    Why not acknowledge these areas and move back to the point in the conversation before this detour?

    I’m sorry, WHICH conversation are you speaking of here? The point of the initial posts, or some of your follow up questions about what do I mean about Jesus preaching to the poor?

    Dan

  60. paynehollow says:

    Craig…

    I merely look at the text and see nothing that compels an interpretation of less inclusion rather than more inclusion.

    So, when Jesus said to tell John, the poor were being preached to, he meant to hint to John that the RICH were being preached to? Or do you agree that the point appears to be, “the poor were being preached to…”?

    Obviously, I don’t think Jesus excludes we who are rich, but in this text, I don’t think that is what he is saying.

    ~Dan

  61. paynehollow says:

    BIG PASTE:

    I’ll return to some of your earlier questions along these lines, although I’m not entirely sure if these are the conversation you’re speaking of, it may be interesting, regardless.

    You said…

    Because if “the poor” doesn’t actually mean “the poor” then you’re whole point kind of loses support.

    Not at all. Jesus said he came to preach to “the poor” and to bring healing to “the sick.” This was the case, even if he did not preach to every poor person in the world or heal every sick person in the world. If “the poor” is speaking of “the poor around me” it STILL is referring to the materially poor.

    Correct?

    Craig…

    So, your point is that the “good news” to the poor was to “to repent of our sins”, how is that different from the good news tor anyone else. You’ve just come back to saying that the “good news” was a primarily a spiritual message, not temporal relief of poverty message.

    The Good News, I’ve said, is the message of the Way of Grace.

    This message includes repenting of our sins, but the good news is not simply repenting of our sins.

    This message includes agreeing with Jesus’ Way – his teachings and the model of Jesus’ life – but it is not simply agreeing with this Way.

    This message includes temporal relief of poverty – ie, sharing with those in need, adopting the plight and cause of the materially poor – but it is not simply adopting it.

    This message includes forgiving others, even as we’re forgiven, but it’s not simply that.

    It’s all of that. This appears, to me, to be the Good News of which Jesus and the disciples preached, given what we know of the text and context.

    Craig…

    Great, we agree that the basic “good news” message that Jesus came to preach was to turn from sin, follow Him, and that it was open to everyone equally.

    I think so, but I don’t think we will want to downplay (not saying you are) how critical is the “sharing with and embracing all, especially the poor and marginalized” part of “follow him” message. This was very much part of what Jesus’ good news is/was, as we see in Jesus life and the life of the early church. It’s why there is the repeated emphasis of “this good news is for all, particularly the poor…” It explains why Jesus said specifically and literally, “I’m preaching the good news TO THE POOR.” We can’t leave that out of the gospel message or we’ve missed a critical part of the gospel message. That’s my point. As long as we agree on that, we agree.

    As to open to everyone “equally,” I could quibble that was not/is not quite the case. The poor man was not specifically asked to give up all he had and follow Jesus. That request was made specifically to a rich seeker. I think it might be safest to say, “the offer of salvation is open to all…” Period. But that might be a minor and debatable quibble.

    Craig…

    Are you suggesting that the Bible (or specifically James and Jesus) is treating things like economic status by broad brushing an entire group together, instead of evaluating individual behavior and motivation?

    That is literally what the text does, in these cases we’re speaking of. James did not say, “Is it not a specific subset of the rich who are oppressing you?” He said, “Is it not THE RICH who oppress you?” Jesus said, literally, “Woe to you who are rich.” Period. Etc, etc.

    Now, do I think that means that James or Jesus were arguing that all the rich were oppressing all the poor? No, I think that’s a case of a generalization based on some real world common behavior. But the text does not make that distinction, we do. The text is literally making the broad brush generalization.

    Literally.

    Right?

    Craig…

    your point is that, at least in the case of these texts, you are imposing limits on the text that exclude those who are spiritually poor or spiritually ill?

    My point is that, in these texts, there is nothing there to suggest he’s speaking of the spiritually poor or the “spiritually rich” (whatever that means). In these texts, when Jesus or James, etc say “rich” or “poor,” that appears to be exactly what they mean.

    Which is not to exclude the possibility of, in general, a case can be made that the same could be said about the “spiritually poor,” just that the text does not say this.

    Craig…

    I’m confused, you just said that the Sabbath/Jubilee rules were time/place/people specific, yet you are suggesting that Jesus reference to them somehow gives then a degree of transcendence, you’ve got me lost here.

    What I’ve said in general is that the Bible is not a rule book where we pick and choose rules to follow, or “find” rules that are there for us to heed. A behavior is not right or wrong because we find a line in the Bible that tells us this, it’s right or wrong when it promotes or destroys the Good, the Wellness, the Health, the Peace, etc.

    Therefore, we see support for this notion of setting aside for the poor or avoiding unhealthy accumulations of wealth in various places in the Bible, but it’s not their appearance in the Bible that makes the behavior right or wrong. It’s just a note of support for what is right or opposition to what is wrong. So, Jesus’ reference to these rules do not make them “rules for us.” Rather, Jesus’ noting the rules just further validates the reality of what we can know about what is right or wrong.

    Craig…

    In the context of the passages you’ve mentioned, how specifically do you (or Jesus or James) define “the poor” or “the rich”?

    They don’t define the terms. Nor have I in this conversation.

    If I were to define negative poverty, I would speak of the debilitating poverty that causes harm and oppression, death and humiliation. Something like that.

    If I were define “the rich,” I would speak of having all one needs and much more. If I were to define the unhealthy rich, I would say a wealth that comes at a cost to others, that is not based on just practices, that is based on an unhealthy hoarding and an unhealthy dependence upon said wealth.

    Something like that.

    Craig…

    Can you provide any text that specifically excludes all of “the rich” from God’s kingdom or specifically includes all of “the poor”?

    I’ve never made this argument, I don’t believe it to be true – regardless of any text. Now, certainly, there are VERY strong warnings found in the Bible against wealth and serious seekers of the Good would do well to heed those warnings.

    “DO NOT store up treasures here on earth.” Jesus flatly said. “Where your treasure is, there your heart is.” Jesus said. “You cannot serve both God and money.” Jesus said. “Your wealth testifies against you.” James said. Strong warnings, all, and worthy of consideration, especially for we who are so affluent.

    But I don’t believe that any are excluded from God’s kingdom nor do I think any are forced into God’s kingdom. I’m just noting the reality of the constant support for those in poverty in the bible as evidence of God’s deep and central concern specifically for the poor and marginalized.

    As to these questions…

    If not, then where specifically does wealth come from?

    Specifically, ultimately, what causes poverty?

    Specifically, ultimately, what causes sicknes

    I’ll just say that the topic is deep and time is short. Good questions, I just don’t have short or sure answers for them, though. Beyond my pay grade, one might say.

    ~Dan

  62. “I don’t think there is any reason to make that a metaphor.”

    Since no one here has even attempted to do so, I must ask why you have gone to such effort to refute a point no one has made.

    “Beyond what Jesus said, in general, can we speak of “the poor” metaphorically? Sure. I’m just noting that is not in the text and we have no reason to assume it in this text. As a rule, was Jesus inclusive not exclusive? Yes. In this text, should we assume he was speaking metaphorically of the poor? No. There is nothing contextually here to suggest it.”

    Since I’ve already addressed what seems to be a misconception on your part regarding this topic, I again must ask why are expending your limited time and effort to refute a point no one has made?

    “You are free to disagree on that point, of course, I just don’t think the text supports that.”

    Since I haven’t disagreed about this, I again wonder why you are belaboring this.

    “I’m just trying to answer your questions, here.”

    Would it be impolite to suggest that it might be helpful to answer questions that haven’t already been answered and not to expend our limited time on disagreements that don’t seem to exist. It seems as though it would be a more orderly way to proceed.

  63. “I’m sorry, WHICH conversation are you speaking of here?”
    The conversation that you and I seemed to be having earlier in the thread.

    “The point of the initial posts, or some of your follow up questions about what do I mean about Jesus preaching to the poor?”

    I don’t recall engaging in a conversation about what you call the initial point of the post, so I’m thinking it was the conversation between the two of us later in the post.

    “So, when Jesus said to tell John, the poor were being preached to, he meant to hint to John that the RICH were being preached to? Or do you agree that the point appears to be, “the poor were being preached to…”?”

    Since I’ve addressed this several times I’m not sure how I can help you correct your incorrect impression of my actual position, but I’ll try again.

    My position is that there is nothing explicit or implicit in the text which limits “the poor” to the materially poor. Nor, given Jesus message of inclusion, is there any reason to think that Jesus meant exclude anyone from hearing His message. So, yes “the poor” were being preached to, I’ve said that several times. I just don’t see any textural indication that Jesus message was exclusively to the materially poor. If you have specific questions about some nuance of my position I’d be happy to correct it, rather than have you making incorrect presumptions about my positions.

  64. paynehollow says:

    Craig…

    So, yes “the poor” were being preached to

    But, by “the poor,” you don’t mean specifically the literally poor, right? It COULD include those, but not necessarily those? Or it DOES include the literally poor, but Jesus did not mean in these texts to say ONLY the literally poor?

    If that is it, what is your evidence that it was not Jesus’ intention to mean specifically the literally poor?

    Look, I’m glad you’re not taking things woodenly literally – may your tribe increase! I just am not sure that, in this case, you’re on the right track.

    But so be it, I have nothing more to contribute to that notion, other than I think your opinion is mistaken, if you think that Jesus was not specifically referring HERE to the specifically literally poor.

    ~Dan

  65. “…it STILL is referring to the materially poor.” “Correct?”

    I’ve never suggested otherwise. What I have suggested is that the message in not exclusive to the materially poor, that it could reasonably be said to include the spiritually poor, emotionally poor and others.

    “So, your point is that the “good news” to the poor was to “to repent of our sins”, how is that different from the good news tor anyone else. You’ve just come back to saying that the “good news” was a primarily a spiritual message, not temporal relief of poverty message.”

    This wasn’t really a question, but if it was, then your response really didn’t answer it. Since you’ve approached it as a question, I’d love an answer. “”So, your point is that the “good news” to the poor was to “to repent of our sins”, how is that different from the good news tor anyone else?” Thanks.

    It would seem that we agree on at least a basic general sense of the basic message Jesus preached and that He preached it to everyone. Off topic, but I’d suggest that it’s probably not a great idea to extrapolate a rule based on the “rich young ruler” story. I’d suggest that that is generally understood as more of an issue of idolatry than wealth per se.

    “The text is literally making the broad brush generalization.” “Literally.”

    You’ve argued quite passionately that “the poor” doesn’t really mean all “the poor”, that it means something like “these poor”, on what basis would you then argue the opposite situation for “the rich”? Are you then suggesting that “the rich” will be judged by God as a general category or that they will be judged on the basis of their action and motivations?

    “Which is not to exclude the possibility of, in general, a case can be made that the same could be said about the “spiritually poor,” just that the text does not say this.”

    Which is exactly what I’ve been saying, thank you for agreeing

    “So, Jesus’ reference to these rules do not make them “rules for us.” Rather, Jesus’ noting the rules just further validates the reality of what we can know about what is right or wrong.”

    This is slightly more consistent with positions you’ve expressed earlier, but still problematic for your opinion that just because Jesus might have mentioned something or someone it doesn’t validate it. It is this kind of selective use of “evidence” that leads people to question your consistency. You are advancing the exact same argument you’ve ridiculed elsewhere, I’m sure you can understand what appears to be a double standard, can’t you?

    So, you can’t say how Jesus or James define “the rich” or “the poor”? Could you put a little flesh on your definitions? Given your earlier statements, it seems as though you have defined “the rich” in order to separate your self from the category you claim to be in. I’m sure it was a simple oversight, right?

    “I’ll just say that the topic is deep and time is short. Good questions, I just don’t have short or sure answers for them, though. Beyond my pay grade, one might say.”

    the topic is deep, and I’m sure your time is short, but I’m a little surprised you choose to provide no answer at all to these foundational questions. It seems to me that these are at the bedrock of how we see economic issues and that it would be difficult to develop significant opinions about economic issues without having some sort of answer. So, please, take your time. I’ll be patient.

    there are a few more unanswered, but those three are really the crux of the issue, so why not take a shot.

  66. “But, by “the poor,” you don’t mean specifically the literally poor, right?”

    I’m sorry, but maybe if I’m more blunt it will help. NO, this is once more an incorrect statement of my position. I’m sorry, but if you are missing the distinction, just ask, please don’t simply presume to state my position incorrectly and move on. I’ve posted at least 3 comments where I address this, and in the absence of any specific questions fail to see what is so difficult to understand.

    I’m not ignoring your question about evidence. The problem is since you’ve so completely gotten my position wrong that your request for evidence is meaningless.

    I could just as well ask you where is your evidence that Jesus was speaking exclusively of the materially poor? Oh, I have, and you’ve rightly said you don’t have any.

    So, I stand ready to answer any specific questions that will help you to understand my actual position, but I’m sure you understand my unwillingness to defend a position I haven’t taken. Further, a position you’ve already essentially agreed with. Why the fixation on this already dealt with issue?

  67. paynehollow says:

    Craig…

    NO, this is once more an incorrect statement of my position. I’m sorry, but if you are missing the distinction, just ask, please don’t simply presume to state my position incorrectly and move on.

    I would point you to the whole cluster of questions (questions, not a stating of your position) I asked you…

    But, by “the poor,” you don’t mean specifically the literally poor, right? It COULD include those, but not necessarily those? Or it DOES include the literally poor, but Jesus did not mean in these texts to say ONLY the literally poor?

    Those are NOT a stating of your positions, they are questions, seeking clarifications. Clarifications for which I still await.

    Dan

  68. paynehollow says:

    Craig…

    I’d love an answer. “”So, your point is that the “good news” to the poor was to “to repent of our sins”, how is that different from the good news tor anyone else?” Thanks.

    Already answered. Repeatedly. And I quote from one of the many places I’ve already answered this:

    I would think that we’d have fewer “crystal cathedrals” and more Simple, Open Door meeting houses.

    I would that that we’d have more intentional community and less gated community.

    I would think we’d tend to have smaller, localized, neighborhood-based churches and fewer “mega-” “super-sized” churches.

    I would think we’d have fewer gilded art galleries and more outsider art.

    I would think there’d be more formal and informal “adopting” of children and families in need, more direct friendships and partnerships with poorer folk, more time spent listening to the plight of the poor first hand, one-on-one, at their hovel or tent-site and much less time spent condemning the poor as lazy “cadillac queens…”

    It would be more egalitarian and bottom up, rather than authoritarian and top-down.

    In short, I’d think we would look more like the example of the early church, where the deacons’ job wasn’t lording it over the church and being the Deciders and Building managers, but in serving the poor, specifically, in an equitable, helpful manner.

    Now, I’d love an answer from you for the same question. How was it good news specifically for the poor, which you agree Jesus at least included, if I’m not mistaken?

    Also, another related question: If, when Jesus told John’s disciples, “Tell them the good news is preached to the poor,” it was speaking only of the literal poor, but really, of anyone who is poor in any symbolic way… doesn’t that sort of make the inclusion of the word “poor” in that sentence moot? If “poor” can mean “everyone,” then why not say, “Everyone has the good news preached to them?” Why would Jesus have said specifically “the poor”?

    Thank you,

    Dan

  69. paynehollow says:

    Craig, in answering your questions, I’d appreciate the same from you:

    If not, then where specifically does wealth come from?

    From having lots of money and stuff. Where does the money and stuff come from? There are a variety of possible answers for that. In short, wealth (speaking here of material, mammon wealth)

    Having a job that pays a great deal more than you can spend.
    Cutting corners to save large amounts of money over time.
    Thievery.
    Taking advantage of others.
    Working many jobs and spending very little and accumulating treasure in that manner.
    Investing in other people’s work and ideas for profit.

    For instance.

    Specifically, ultimately, what causes poverty?

    Again, a wide variety of possible answers. No one thing that I know of.

    Generally speaking, consistently not having enough to make ends meet and not having access to resources to change that pattern, I guess.

    A consistent lack of resources and a consistent overabundance of expenditures.

    Something like that.

    Specifically, ultimately, what causes sicknes

    Again, no one answer I know of, but giving it a shot…

    A lack of health?
    A lack of access to healthcare options (not just medical).
    Innate unhealthy physical traits.
    A variety of disasters – car accidents, rock falling on your head, assault, rape, tornado dropping a cow on you…
    An inability to be prepared for potential disasters (ie, being exposed to bad weather due to lack of housing, only being able to afford to live in a drought region, etc)

    Something like that.

    Your answers?

    ~Dan

  70. Dan,
    I’ve answered and clarified several times, if you have something specific from those clarifications that you don’t understand I’ll be happy to give you specific answers, but I don’t see how simple repetition would be helpful.

    “Craig, in answering your questions, I’d appreciate the same from you:”

    I’ve tried very hard to answer the questions specifically directed to me and believe that I have answered all of your questions. If I’ve missed one or two I apologize, and as I’ve said would be happy to answer or clarify any areas of confusion. However, in terms of this general statement I’m not sure exactly what you are looking for.

    As to your responses, I guess I’m looking for something less superficial and more elemental. Not lust a list of the obvious, but something deeper.

  71. Thanks for the time and effort, I appreciate it.

  72. Sorry about the multiple comments, my computer is possessed or something.

    I just saw your request for my answers, and I’ll be happy to answer. But I don’t want my answers to distract from or influence you from giving yours. I’m trying to get as unvarnished an answer from you as I can without introducing anything else. I certainly hope that you understand.

  73. Just a quick note or two,

    Dan continues to speak of the “literally” poor. We all could agree that Jesus is always referring to the literally poor. That’s not really at issue, I don’t think. It would be like saying “he’s ‘literally’ a doctor”, yet two people could be speaking of totally different professions; i.e. a doctor of medicine vs a doctor of theology vs a doctor of education. One who has tons of cash can indeed be literally poor of a variety of most concern to Jesus: the poor in spirit. The poor in cash may indeed be of concern to Jesus, but I cannot reject the notion that for Him and His teachings, the material poor, who are easy to identify to anyone, including themselves, are a metaphor for the literally poor in spirit. This would be like a husband and wife are literally a man and woman married to each other, but at the same time are a metaphor for Christ and His Church. The same goes for the sick and lame. They also represent a spiritual truth that is of greater importance than the earthly condition of their physical situations.

    I don’t think the Good News is the mystery some would make it out to be. I stated it above with “I am the Way…” The Good News is that by virtue of His death and resurrection, we are saved from our own sin and can be with God. THAT is the long and short of the Good News. And that’s a spiritual message that far surpasses in importance anything else He may have taught about how to live a Christian life. Being nice, helping the materially poor, sick and lame, etc. None of that matters without the Good News.

    This list:

    Having a job that pays a great deal more than you can spend.
    Cutting corners to save large amounts of money over time.
    Thievery.
    Taking advantage of others.
    Working many jobs and spending very little and accumulating treasure in that manner.
    Investing in other people’s work and ideas for profit.

    Guess what? They are all examples of the consequences of choices and actions taken. None of them just happens (certainly not thievery). One must make a choice to get a good paying job, to cut corners, to steal or take advantage of others, to work many jobs or to invest. They are not reasons for wealth. They are the consequences of wealth producing choices made, which is THE reason for wealth. Choosing to do that which can produce wealth. Thanks for the help in proving the point once again.

  74. paynehollow says:

    Craig…

    I don’t want my answers to distract from or influence you from giving yours.

    Craig, I’ve answered. I don’t know what you’re looking for, but the answer I gave in response to your question IS my answer.

    So, when you say…

    I guess I’m looking for something less superficial and more elemental.

    My answer as to why someone is poor is that they have more expenses than resources. That is as elemental as it gets.

    My answer as to why someone is rich is that they have more resources than expenses. That is as elemental as it gets.

    My answer as to what causes illness is that there are a variety of things: Germs, microbes, disease, accidents, acts of violence, congenital, pollution. That is as elemental as it gets.

    I don’t know what you’re looking for but those are my best answers that I have.

    Why don’t you tell me what your answers are to those same questions and maybe I’ll get what you’re trying to get at.

    I will say that IF you are trying to say that SIN is the elemental origin of illness and poverty, I don’t believe that is supportable with data for a second. If you are trying to say that God’s “blessing” is the origin of wealth, I don’t believe that for a second. But I have to doubt that you’re suggesting that, it doesn’t seem to fit what I know of you. So, you tell me. I’ve given the answers as best I know how.

    ~Dan

    • “My answer as to why someone is poor is that they have more expenses than resources.”

      That isn’t an answer to “why is someone poor”. That’s what poor looks like. “Choices” is the reason for both poverty and wealth. Choices also have a great impact on how susceptible one is to germs, microbes and everything else you listed.

      “If you are trying to say that God’s “blessing” is the origin of wealth, I don’t believe that for a second.”

      Then you contradict Scripture. I refer you again to Deut 8:18 as one example supporting the notion of God as the source of our blessings. Hard to accept if you hate the wealthy and believe wealth is evil, but it’s true nonetheless.

  75. paynehollow says:

    No, Marshall, I contradict your interpretation of Scripture. There is a difference.

    I don’t consider wealth to be a blessing. Nor do I hate the wealthy (remember, I am wealthy), nor do I believe wealth is evil. I DO believe that, as the Bible teaches, wealth is a trap and we should be wary of it.

    I don’t consider “traps” to be equivalent to “blessing.”

    That I disagree with your interpretation is not an indication that I disagree with Scripture.

    ~Dan

    • No, you’re NOT wealthy. You’re a liar. I know Craig also supported this notion that we are wealthy, but the reason for this position is faulty. Simply because I have more, and even a lot more, than those who have absolutely nothing, that doesn’t mean I’m rich. It’s relative perhaps to the person with absolutely nothing, but that relativity is only a type of comparison. It doesn’t mean I’m wealthy at all, and it certainly doesn’t mean YOU are.

      As to my interpretation of Scripture, we find yet another topic on which there is no real alternative position. I pointed to only one verse that indicates our wealth, however one defines it, is a blessing, a blessed gift of God. “Count your blessings” is what we tell ourselves regularly. We are taught to give thanks for God’s blessings. You’re going to pretend a good and comfortable life doesn’t count among them? Bullshit. You are just so frightened at the thought of appearing greedy or covetous (which you are by your stance on progressive taxation), that you won’t tell the truth.

      But then you double-talk. You say you’re rich, but then speak of wealth as a trap. So if you’re wealthy because you have more than those who have nothing, then you are ensnared in that trap of which you speak and need to give away all you have so that you are not rich anymore, BECAUSE you play the relativity game in order to posture yourself as humble (“Oh see how humble I am because with my meager income I still proclaim myself as one of the rich!” I’m gagging at the prideful self-satisfaction.)

      This is just another of the many ways you disagree with Scripture.

  76. Dan,

    Thanks for putting in the extra effort, to attempt to dig a little deeper. I’m pretty glad that your opinion isn’t what decides what’s true. It’s interesting that in your “reasons” to answer the “where does wealth/poverty come from” questions literally everything you listed is a choice or a result of a choice. It’s also interesting that many of them on the wealth side are not so much indictments of “wealth” but of greed. Maybe that’s why you find greed listed as a sin, but not wealth.

    Unfortunately, and there is no reason to get off track here. Jesus created a world without sickness and poverty, and like it or not sin screwed it up. Again, unfortunately, the good news is that Jesus is going to come back and put to right was was broken. So, while your vies can’t rationally explain why Jesus preached about “the poor’ but essentially ignored them while He was on earth, my view can. While your view can’t explain why Jesus told Johns followers hat “the sick” were being healed, when obviously many were not, mine can. So, fortunately, what you can or can’t comprehend is really kind of pointless.

    As to wealth, doesn’t everything come from God? Does not God give us gifts and talents and abilities? Does not Jesus himself talk multiple times about investing money at interest as a good thing? Do you deny that God gave Solomon wealth? Are you seriously suggesting that one comment by Jesus to one person constitutes some sort of blanket rule for everyone? Even in your Acts example, there were still wealthy folks. Nowhere does it even hint that they were all poor. Even Ananias and Sapphira weren’t punished for having wealth, it was clear that it was their property and money to do with as they wished. Their problem was lying about what they did, not having wealth.

    Deuteronomy 8:18 “But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.”

    This is from an earlier comment that maybe you chose to ignore, but I’ll paste it here since it’s relevant.

    “I will say this, that there are literally thousands of actual literal human beings that have actual literal physical sight because a group of “the rich” has spend vast sums of time and money to build staff and maintain a medical center in the midst of the poorest zone of the poorest country in this hemisphere. I know that the 1000 plus family members on the waiting list of the non profit I work for are praying for some more of “the rich” to donate enough money, people, land, or material so that we can house more than @50 low income families a year. I can show you the thousands of folks in the Congo who have medical care because a church full of “the rich” decided NOT to build a bigger sanctuary to celebrate it’s 50th anniversary. I can show you that literally millions of literally hungry children and families that get regular, good, healthy, nutritious food because a bunch of “the rich” donate time and money to purchase, pack and ship food throughout the world. Or the “rich” corporations who volunteer their expertise in food science to make it possible on the scale it happens. Or one of “the rich”, who after finding himself in his early 50′s with more money than he knew what to do with said, “I want to spend the rest of my life funding orphanages. I’m guessing the orphans who live in those orphanages as well as the ones who will live in the orphanages still to be built, probably don’t worry too much about whether or not “the rich” are going to have a tough time getting into heaven.” If it weren’t for rich people of deep religious conviction, how many hospitals would have gone un-built? How many hungry un-fed? How many homeless without shelter?

    A quick look at what the gospels say about wealth doesn’t show anything that would possibly suggest wealth is inherently bad, and it’s hard to deny that Christ uses investing for profit as a positive in parables. I’m sure most of our parents taught us what the Bible says about money, right? “Money is the root of all evil”. The problems is that’s just wrong. It’s the “LOVE” of money that is the problem. The rich young ruler’s sin wasn’t wealth it was greed, or idolatry or both. Jesus interacts with numerous rich folks, yet never suggests that they MUST give away all of their wealth. Jesus commends the use of expensive ointment on Himself, instead of selling it to feed the poor. Why the contradiction?

    “On one hand,
    there is a tradition throughout Scripture, which affirms wealth as oftentimes,
    God’s blessing! The Bible in fact begins with an important declaration:
    Everything material,which God has created, is “good” (Gen 1

    2)! Yes! With God’s blessing and favour, we can
    enjoy wealth! When wealth falls into our hands, we can, and it should in fact, prompt us
    towards doxology and worship (Deut 16:15)! The experience of material wealth can actually serve to enrich and deepen our relationship with God.
    However,this is an experience, which comes to us because the receiving of wealth
    has prompted us to thank God and praise Him for what He gives us.
    11Furthermore, we should affirm that the Lord Jesus welcomed the contributions of wealthy patrons to his life and ministry (Luke 8:1-3). Jesus obviously also very much enjoyed attending lavish luncheons and dinners in the homes of the wealthy.
    He seemed in fact to find it difficult to turn down a good meal, where ever it came from (Luke7:36f; 11:37f; 14:1f).
    So I agree and like what Gordon Wong says: “God is not a killjoy! He desires for us to
    experience the finest foods and sweetest honey (Ps 81:16). And there is in fact, a “positive ‘consumer’ language found throughout the Psalms (Ps 34:8).”

    Take a run through what Richard Foster has to say about money and wealth.

    To me, it all comes down to this. As long as folks can convince themselves that only physical needs are literal, then there is a huge problem. Earlier, you had it right, it’s both/and.

    I’m paraphrasing, but this just seems so much more in line with scripture.

    “The sin behind money is greed.”

    It’s been interesting, I’ll give you that.

  77. Thanks. I see why you are pushing back on the concept of where we stand in terms of global wealth, but I’d offer the following.

    1. I think that we have a bunch of rich (or at least not poor) white liberals who love to go on about how terrible “the rich” are and the evil “99%” and nasty corporations etc. I think that it helps to point out the hypocrisy inherent in their position. Like t or not we’re in the top 5% of worldwide wealth.

    2. This whole notion of judging groups of people by economic status alone just simply makes no sense. So it seems to be helpful to challenge these folks on their notion of where they really stand.

    Case in point, you notice how Dan was full of talk about “the rich” and how bad it was for them, but then changed his tune (subtly and incrementally) when it was pointed out that at he was really one of them.

    I do get your point, and see where you’re coming from, but I still think it’s a valid comparison.

  78. paynehollow says:

    Craig, don’t be obtuse. I’ve always self-identified as wealthy. You are taking something noble and which comes at a cost (ie, acknowledging that I’m coming from a place of privilege and that I AM the rich – and that these passages are talking about people like me, at least to some degree), and trying to ridiculously suggest some nefarious intent on my part. Shame on you.

    I’ve always self-identified as wealthy, no “tune changing” on my part. In the real world.

    Just to clarify this repeated false understanding with real world facts.

    ~Dan

  79. Dan

    I have no desire to argue with you but if you look back through your comments on this thread you continually referred to “the rich “. Then when called you changed to an occasional “we rich”. Those are the facts of what you actually chose to write , unfortunately we can only go by your writings not by your unwritten thoughts.

    • My main problem with referring to ourselves as rich is that almost all the discussions regarding the poor and the choices they made are focused on the less than wealthy in this country, not in third world countries where kids die of starvation with unfortunate regularity. But even then, we are not rich. We are simply not as badly off. That’s an important distinction. Yeah, kings of yesteryear didn’t have flush toilets microwaves, but I don’t compare my financial state to them, either. Dan referring to himself as rich, and he does do that with nauseating pseudo-humility, is purposeful distraction and diversion, not to mention totally irrelevant and lacking in class and grace, because he damned well knows what we mean in using the terms “rich” and “poor”.

      However, ironically, Dan exposes his own hypocrisy in that if he is rich, he has totally failed to avoid that horrible and inescapable trap of wealth against which he was warned by all the passages he likes to put forth. He claims to take those passages to heart, and then he says he’s rich anyway. Why is this? Why hasn’t he given away all his excess wealth, however he’s measuring it, so that he can righteously proclaim himself no longer rich, and at the same time, also claim he’s helped some poor destitute person on the brink? I mean, hey, if he’s rich, he’s obviously over-consumed and needs to jettison the excess and give it all away.

      No. Far better he cut the crap about being rich when he clearly isn’t and engage as an honorable person.

  80. Marshall,

    i see your point about referring to ourselves as rich and I think it can be an issue where it becomes a pride issue or (as you suspect) a sincerity issue. I suspect that some of this is based on my experiences in a couple of third world countries and especially knowing that what folks like Dan can horrible poverty is in reality a standard of living that most of the world would aspire to.

    It’s interesting about Dan’s terms “the rich” and “the poor”. I agree that he, like many on the left, is a little too enamored with labeling people as a part of a group rather than seeing people as individuals. This is certainly evident when he deals with us. He frequently will broad brush everyone on “the right” together based on how he interprets what one person has said, insisting that you or I defend something someone else has said, even if we’ve said we don’t agree. However, if you read his comments, it’s pretty evident that when he uses the term “the rich” he intends it to refer to all of the rich, yet when he uses the term “the poor” in the context of Jesus ministry he chooses to believe that it means just the poor who could hear Jesus. I understand your problems with the terms and their use, but since Dan had staked out his position on the terms “the rich” and “the poor”, I felt like it made sense to go with those terms despite some reservations about their appropriateness.

    Yes, i appreciate the irony of his claims as much as you do, but it’s hard to know exactly what he does or doesn’t do, and to encourage him to list all his good works, just seems like asking him to brag. I’ve done something similar before to make the point that yes, us cold hearted conservatives do actually do tangible things, and I’ve asked the blog admin to delete the comment for that very reason.

    I do see your point, and I see the double standard, but I’m not sure I want to forget where we in the US stand in terms of global wealth, just to let Dan slide of one more example of his inconsistency.

  81. paynehollow says:

    John Wesley on “do not store up for yourselves treasures…” ie, on wealth and poverty…

    We may now clearly discern (unless we are unwilling to discern it) what that is which is forbidden here. It is the designedly procuring more of this world’s goods than will answer the foregoing purposes; the labouring after a larger measure of worldly substance, a larger increase of gold and silver, — the laying up any more than these ends require, — is what is here expressly and absolutely forbidden.

    If the words have any meaning at all, it must be this; for they are capable of no other. Consequently, whoever he is that, owing no man anything, and having food and raiment for himself and his household, together with a sufficiency to carry on his worldly business so far as answers these reasonable purposes; whosoever, I say, being already in these circumstances, seeks a still larger portion on earth; he lives in an open habitual denial of the Lord that bought him

    Ye may be “highly esteemed of men;” but ye are “an abomination in the sight of God.” How long shall your souls cleave to the dust? How long will ye load yourselves with thick clay? When will ye awake and see that the open, speculative Heathens are nearer the kingdom of heaven than you? When will ye be persuaded to choose the better part; that which cannot be taken away from you? When will ye seek only to “lay up treasures in heaven,” renouncing, dreading, abhorring all other? If you aim at “laying up treasures on earth,” you are not barely losing your time and spending your strength for that which is not bread: for what is the fruit if you succeed? — You have murdered your own soul!

    O “how hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!” When our Lord’s disciples were astonished at his speaking thus he was so far from retracting it that he repeated the same important truth in stronger terms than before. “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” How hard is it for them whose very word is applauded not to be wise in their own eyes! How hard for them not to think themselves better than the poor, base, uneducated herd of men! How hard not to seek happiness in their riches, or in things dependent upon them; in gratifying the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eye, or the pride of life! O ye rich, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?

    And Wesley, of course, is not alone.

    In noting the reality of the verses that are talking about rich and poor seem quite obviously to be talking about the literally rich and poor, I am not an outsider. I would say it is only in today’s wealthy West that we have people making figurative that which is written literally.

    More, Wesley speaking to “the rich…”

    Many of your brethren, beloved of God, have not food to eat; they have not raiment to put on; they have not a place where to lay their head. And why are they thus distressed? Because you impiously, unjustly, and cruelly detain from them what your Master lodges in your hands on purpose to supply their wants!…

    But still remember: riches have in all ages been the bane of genuine Christianity.

    John Wesley, radical freaky communist liberal. Who knew?

    ~Dan

  82. Yeah Dan! Wesley condemns greed! Had you read my earlier comment you might have noticed that I addressed this.

  83. paynehollow says:

    I just entered “Wesley” in a search and went back and did not see where you ever addressed Wesley’s comments. The closest was one post where you said, “I’ve answered this and see no reason to answer it again…”

    Just fyi.

    Regardless, I’m just pointing out that there is nothing spectactular or unusual about those of us – like the anabaptists, like Wesley, like me – who take “poor” and “rich” in these passages to mean specifically, literally “poor” and “rich…” and also to point out that I’m not nearly as harsh about “the rich” (of which I’m a part, because apparently, I need to point that out each time, even though I’ve often pointed it out and never once claimed to NOT be part of that group) as Wesley was.

    ~Dan

  84. Dan,
    The fact that you don’t read others comments before you respond doesn’t surprise me any more. The fact that you still choose to represent others positions falsely after being corrected enough times that it’s virtually impossible that you are not intentionally misrepresenting others views. These are why I see no reason to continue this with you. It’s one thing if you don’t understand and are trying, but you’ve gone beyond that and I just don’t see what can possibly come from correcting you.
    You haven’t been able to offer scripture that actually unquestionably supports your point, so now you offer some combination of Anabaptistry and Wesley in place of scripture. You can’t reconcile Jesus words and deeds on this matter so you ignore His actions in favor of your hunch about what His words mean. So I think it’s better if I just move on and leave you to sort this out on your own.

  85. I didn’t address Wesley specifically, I did address his point. It helps to read, not search.

  86. paynehollow says:

    I haven’t provided scripture that says that when Jesus said, “the poor are being preached to and the sick are being healed…” he meant, “the poor are being preached to and the sick are being healed…”? Perhaps not. But you have not provided scripture that says he was being metaphorical here, either. But the weight of tradition and history and just the most obvious take on the text weighs against your opinion. But you are certainly welcome to it.

    I just hope you remember this when others criticize folk like me for “you didn’t provide biblical text to say that OT rules to ancient rules are not universal rules” etc.

    ~Dan

    • Apparently, like with homosexuality, things need to be repeated some unknown number of times before he will recognize it at all. Thus, because Jesus doesn’t say “poor in spirit” or continue to speak of His Kingdom not being of this world, and such, He only means what Dan needs it to mean.

      And again, Jesus can mean “poor” literally, and at the same time not be referring to material poverty. One is “literally poor” when one is poor in spirit, another poor in wealth, another poor in understanding, another poor in health.

      As regards Wesley, I read the quote several times. He doesn’t speak against wealth, either. He speaks, as Jesus actually did, of storing up treasure at the expense of storing treasure in heaven. This is supported by the parable of the rich fool, who planned to build a bigger barn for his wealth of crops. This parable of Luke 12 ends with this verse (21): “This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.” He then goes on about the birds of the air and the lilies of the fields, finishing with verse 31: “But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.”

      The point remains that one must make God first in one’s life. But doing this does not preclude doing for one’s self, but only that one’s self comes second to God.

      This whole bit I just referenced, in a Gospel with constant attention to wealth and poverty, demonstrates also that Jesus was concerned far more about one’s spiritual wealth and poverty above the material forms. No where in Scripture, is there any admonishment toward a wealthy person, by Christ or anyone, merely for being wealthy. It is always a reference to those whose wealth was their god, a spiritual poverty.

      And also, as Dan insists on referring to himself as rich, I cannot see how he would insist such a thing given his own constant harping against wealth. If you are rich, Dan, then you have failed to live up to your own poor understanding of Scripture on the subject, for you surely could not be inheriting the Kingdom of Heaven because you are not poor and have more than you need in the manner described by Wesley.

      But the fact is that you are not at all rich, and you go to great pains to deny yourself wealth. At least that’s what you’ve said about yourself many times. You can’t be both rich and one who avoids wealth. You’re lying about one or the other.

  87. “But you have not provided scripture that says he was being metaphorical here, either.”

    Since I’ve never actually made the argument you prefer I’d have made I feel under no obligation to provide biblical support for an argument I didn’t actually make. Had you, paid attention, asked clarifying questions and paid attention, I wouldn’t have needed to continually repeat this very simple fact. I’m sorry, but you simply repeating the position you would like me to have taken is not equal to me having actually taken the position.

    “But the weight of tradition and history and just the most obvious take on the text weighs against your opinion.”

    I see, when it’s convenient for you then the “weight of tradition and history” become compelling arguments, but when they don’t hey simply become one more thing for you to ignore. At least your consistent in your double standard.

    “But you are certainly welcome to it.”

    Unfortunately, I would prefer my own conclusions, not the ones you choose to invent for me. I know that sometimes nuance and subtlety escape you, but I’ve been pretty clear about my actual positions, I really don’t need your help.

    “I just hope you remember this when others criticize folk like me for “you didn’t provide biblical text to say that OT rules to ancient rules are not universal rules” etc.’

    Dan, not only do I remember it when you are selectively inconsistent, I revel in it. Unfortunately, I fear you still won’t choose to apply the same standards to others as you do to yourself. But, I can always hope.

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